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Infant, mother killed in Richmond shooting

Posted at 11:27 AM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 15:20:25-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A 30-year-old mother and her three-month-old daughter were killed Tuesday in a shooting outside the Belt Atlantic apartments, Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith said at a Wednesday morning press conference addressing the violence in South Richmond.

A 29-year-old woman, a 15-year-old girl, and an 11-year-old girl were also injured in the shooting and now considered to be in stable condition, the chief said.

Friends of the slain mother and infant identified them as Sharnez Hill and Neziah.

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"These are all females who were there outside with everyone else enjoying the weather in a large courtyard," Chief Smith said. "At this time, we do not believe that they were the target of these shootings. They could very well be considered innocent bystanders, doing what most of us did as much as we could yesterday, which was get outside and enjoy the weather."

Three people, including a juvenile, have been taken into custody so far in connection to the 6:30 p.m. shooting.

Two of the suspects were charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of the infant.

Both appeared in Richmond General District Court on Wednesday.

"Our detectives have reviewed multiple cameras that were out there at this particular apartment complex," the chief said. "We know that there was a group of perpetrators who began shooting. That first group of perpetrators, we believe are the ones who actually struck these five innocent victims. And there was another group, another side that actually returned fire. At this point in time, we don't believe they actually struck anybody. But what you have is, if you've been to that area, the way that that area is set up, there are courtyards out there, and they were shooting across those courtyards."

The courtyard was filled with kids, the chief said.

Mayor Stoney: 'A true epidemic'

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney called gun violence in Richmond "a true epidemic."

"Someone's missing a child today, a family member today, a relative today," the mayor said. "I really do believe it could have been avoided. Now there are Richmonders left to pick up the pieces. Again, this happens far too many times in the city. It's a true epidemic. And it is certainly a public health crisis when it comes to gun violence in the city."

The mayor praised Richmond Police for the department's hard work in developing leads and working to get the shooters into custody.

He said the violence was not reflective of the South Richmond community in which it occurred, rather a few bad individuals.

"This is not a reflection of the good residents who live at Belt Atlantic, who live on the south side," Mayor Stoney said. "It is a tragedy when a mother and now a child is gone, because of indiscriminate gunfire, without any regard for human life.

Richmond Police planned to hold a community walk-through Wednesday afternoon in an effort to "bring some normalcy back out there."

Anyone with information about the shooting was to call Major Crimes Detective Russell at (804) 646-7715 or Crime Stoppers at 780-1000.