Five homicides across five days in Richmond: 'We don't have to resort to violence to resolve the issues'

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Posted at 8:14 PM, Sep 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-19 20:14:51-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A string of gun violence in Richmond has left five people dead over a five-day span.

Richmond Pastor Marvin Gilliam Jr. said hearing this news opens old wounds. Gilliam lost his cousin, Orlando, to gun violence in 2021.

"It's difficult to truly describe the pain after losing a loved one to gun violence," he said.

His personal connection to that type of pain makes hearing about it still happening even harder. "It really was sadness, kind of terror, anger, all of these things kind of mixed up. It was a feeling I had never really felt before because it hit so close," Gilliam said. "We're really sad that we lost such a great guy so that's why we are doing all we can to stop gun violence here in our city."

The Richmond pastor says he joined Richmonders Involved to Strengthen Our Community (RISC) after his cousin was killed in 2021, hoping to help reduce gun violence.

Police said the first of the five shootings happened Friday night when 23-year-old Antione Christian was killed in a drive-by shooting on Phaup St.

Under 24 hours later, a 55-year-old man was found dead in the front yard of a home on Drewry Street

"Thoughts of sadness because you think about the lives that have been lost, the five lives and their families and the people that they're connected to and now grieving someone and traumatized by it," said Gilliam.

The trail of tragedy is one community activist Charles Willis said needs to come to an end.

"Before I could shake my head behind the second call, then another call came in, and the rash of violence that is going on in our city that is plaguing our city is unbelievable," he described.

Police said the next shooting happened Sunday evening on Willoughby Court., leaving 19-year-old Malachi Dunbar dead.

On Tuesday morning a man was found shot to death on Mechanicsville Turnpike and just a few hours later at 5 a.m., investigators said another man was found dead with several gunshot wounds on Overlook Street.

"The trauma never ends," Willis said. Trauma, both he and Gilliam said is long-lasting and will take the entire community to fix.

"We say it takes a village, there is no more village, we need to rebuild that village," said Willis. "We all got to work together from all sectors, faith communities, nonprofits, city administration, police, everybody has to work together to bring this gun violence to an end in the city," said Gilliam.

He said he believes methods like group violence intervention are successful in Hopewell and he hopes to see it have the same impact in Richmond.

"Last year in the periods of June and July of 2022 compared to 2023 in the same time period, shootings have been down 80% so the progress even though they are just getting started with group violence intervention," Gilliam said. "We think that this should really work here in Richmond in addition to all of the efforts the city is doing."

Richmond Police Department said the recent gun violence will be addressed by the Chief of Police at a news conference Tuesday.

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