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Spate of teenage gun violence in Central Virginia concerns mental health expert

Richmond Police Crime Generic Daytime Shooting
Posted at 11:43 PM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 23:43:57-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A sharp increase in teenage gun violence in recent weeks is concerning law enforcement officers and mental health experts in Central Virginia.

On Friday, 19-year-old Chynekqua Walker was arrested and charged with reckless handling of a firearm Friday as well as shooting into an occupied dwelling and obstructing justice.

Crime Insider sources say she went to a back bedroom at her Ronaldton Road home Thursday and thought that she was handling a BB gun when she accidentally shot her brother in the shoulder with a real gun.

Dr. Marty Buxton is a nationally known expert in child and adolescent psychiatry. And while can't speak specifically about recent cases, he said that today's circumstances can lead to unanticipated problems for young people.

"COVID-19 has not caused what's happening, but it has exacerbated factors that increase violence,” Buxton said. “For example: lack of structure, there's no school, the social distancing and isolation, creates more tension in the home where they normally would get along."

Walker's 15-year-old brother is one of four juveniles in Central Virginia either injured or killed by gunfire in the past two weeks.

An unidentified15-year-old was killed in a drive-by shooting at 21st Street and R Street.

Hours later, police say 15-year-old Nathaniel Bankston was shot to death by a 12-year-old boy in Mosby Court.

There's also a 12-year-old's shooting death under investigation in Petersburg.

Buxton warned that this may be just the beginning. "A lack of structure, guns available, that leads almost always to violence, lack of other ways of discharging negativity appropriately,” he said. “In a culture that believes in violence, we are going to see more acting out."