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National Night Out turns violent amid rising gun violence

National Night Out turns violent amid rising gun violence
Posted at 10:57 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 09:19:55-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A day dedicated to connecting members of the community with police officers turned deadly with a rash of gun violence.

On Tuesday night, a man was shot in Richmond's East End. Police said that the man transported himself to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. At this time, detectives are investigating the incident.

For the second time in three years, Petersburg's National Night Out included a shooting.

Police say a man in Petersburg was shot as he approached a blue Chevy Impala on Mingea Street. Crime Insider sources said just a single round was fired.

Police said that the victim of the Petersburg shooting has died.

National Night Out was an annual campaign started in 1984 to bring people together to stop crime.

The positive tones of earlier in the day, bringing the community together with officials, turned serious quickly. Prior to Tuesday night's shootings, gun violence and a 38 percent increase in murders were on Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney's mind.

"I've been looking at our stats and stats of other cities and we should all be concerned when we see that kind of increase in homicides. No, it's not the 90s, that's not the case, but still, when a person loses their son or daughter to gun violence, it's a problem for all of us," Stoney said.

Another problem in tandem with the increase in violent crime is the number of officers available to address the problems. At this time, the Richmond Police Department has 75 vacancies with more officers slated to leave.

However, Jim Nolan, the mayor's spokesperson, said the city has 19 police recruits who will join the force when they graduate in September.

"I'm excited to hear we have... [recruits] that are about to graduate and can cut some vacancy in half. I know there are some others out for other reasons, but once we get that class of individuals on the streets, it'll cut the vacancy and I hope to attract more. Here's the thing, it's not all about the money," Stoney said.

On Henrico's West End, Tuesday's events were centered around faith and fellowship. Church leaders joined in with Henrico's FOP Lodge Four, providing food and fun for families who stopped by.

"Today was about sharing hope, to let people know you're still loved, your community is here, we are here for support and I'm glad people felt safe enough to come to National Night Out," a man involved in Henrico's event said.