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Police presence increased at Oceanfront following deadly shootings

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Posted at 3:01 PM, Apr 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-04 15:02:51-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- A makeshift memorial for Donovon Lynch continues to grow at 20th Street and Pacific Avenue where Virginia Beach Police said he was shot and killed by one of their own.

Protesters with Black Lives Matter 757 gathered on the boardwalk Saturday calling for justice for the 25-year-old man and for Deshayla Harris, 28, who was also killed in last week’s string of shootings at the Oceanfront.

Police said Harris was an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire. A stray bullet took her life, according to police.

No arrests have been made in connection to Harris’ death.

State Police are now investigating the details leading up to Lynch’s death.

“We do not have transparency; we never have,” said Pops Holmes, a protester with BLM 757 and BLM RVA.

During a special City Council meeting on March 30, Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate said surveillance video was recovered from the first crime scene at Atlantic Avenue and 20th Street, but there was no city video for the officer-involved shooting.

The chief also said the officer involved in the shooting cited the Fifth Amendment.

“It’s hard to be transparent when you have very little information to guide our response and investigation,” Neudigate said.

Protesters questioned the shooting of Lynch and lack of surveillance video and body camera footage.

“During the protest, police were able to recognize who we were through facial recognition, through all the cameras in the city and drones and everything else, so there should be some footage of Donovon Lynch being shot by a police officer,” said Holmes.

Meantime, police beefed up security the first weekend since the shootings to curb violence. Mounted patrol officers were on standby.

With the increased police presence, many people still did not feel safe.

“I would come down here more, but especially when weather gets nice, VBPD is kind of…” paused Heavyn Smith of Virginia Beach.

“Trigger happy,” said Smith’s friend Damien Stennett.

Smith said, “Not even, yeah trigger happy but a little bit aggressive sometimes, especially toward young people and young people of color down at the Oceanfront.”

Smith said police need more de-escalation training.

“You need to increase police presence and increase de-escalation tactics,” she said. “If you don’t know how to de-escalate a situation, it’s just a whole lot more police presence and a whole lot of citizens uncomfortable and that’s going to clash.”

Olivia Chamberlain and her friends, however, were not deterred by the deadly shootings on March 26. They said they do feel safe.

“We can’t stop living,” said Chamberlain of King and Queen County. “The world is bad all over. We just got to do what we got to do to survive out here now. We can’t stop our life because other stuff is going on.”