RICHMOND, Va. -- It has been a violent week in Metro Richmond, with three people dying in six shootings.
The most recent shooting happened on Tuesday night. It started in Henrico County and ended with 51-year-old Hassan Dixon’s death in Richmond.
"I watched your report last night and heard that the wife heard the whole incident, and I know for me it was just heartbreaking if you can hear your loved one suffering on the other end," Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said.
The continuing violence is a heavyweight for victims and their families to shoulder. So far, it’s happened to 64 different families in 2021.
When CBS 6 caught up with Stoney Wednesday, we asked him about it.
"Unfortunately, 64 times is way too many in the City of Richmond,” Stoney said. “That's the bottom line. And for those who think they can get away with this, I want them to know the Richmond Police Department will do their job by seeking justice, to find these individuals who have no problem at all taking another person’s life."
Dixon was a grandfather who was shot in the parking lot of a convenience store on Laburnum Avenue in Henrico before driving himself to a convenience store on Carolina Avenue in Richmond where he died.
Henrico Police led the investigation that identified Dixon’s alleged killer from surveillance footage. Less than 24 hours later, they arrested 25-year-old Deontre Maryland.
There have been more than 190 shootings in the city so far this year. Stoney said he puts some of the blame on easy access to guns, calling it an epidemic that has festered for decades.
"I know you guys have been around the table with federal partners and I've talked with experts that say Project Exile is still on the books and a quick fix,” Jon Burkett said to Stoney. “As mayor, have you thought to yourself, ‘maybe we should bring it back because that seemed to scare those in the '90s?’”
“We want to bring resources to bear, but learn from mistakes of the past,” Stoney said. “Yes, Project Exile was successful in the 90s when we were seeing high crime in our neighborhoods, but I think we learned from that time to execute different programs like it moving forward. So I don't know if it's Project Exile, but we do need to work with our partners to bring these individuals to justice."
One issue hinderingthe city right now is far fewer eyes and ears on the streets.
Currently, there are 93 vacancies in RPD’s ranks, with 30 more set to leave by the end of November. These decreasing numbers have led to a team of 12 aggravated assault detectives being cut in half, according to Crime Insider sources.
And there’s a growing stack of major crimes cases to solve.
“We are not the only locality in the country with people re-thinking whether or not they want to be police officers,” Stoney said. “However, I want those who've chosen the profession to know that we appreciate their service to the city. Yes, times are more difficult and challenging than we've ever had because of pandemic and associated factors causing a high spike in crime. It’s not the sole reason, not the sole factor, but one of many factors. It's my hope that they stick with us through all of it because Lord knows, we do need them!"