National media, other sources rushed to call it a mass shooting incident. Instead, there are three cases and plenty of questions.
VIRGINIA BEACH-Two people are dead and three people currently face charges after a series of incidents Friday night in Virginia Beach. Happening so soon after a mass shooting in Colorado, some news organizations were quick to label this as another case of a single shooter attacking people. Instead, police are investigating three cases, including one officer-involved shooting, in and around the Oceanfront area.
Overall, police reported 10 injuries during Friday’s multiple incidents. The first incident took place around 11:20 p.m. Friday, on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and 20th Street. A group of people got into an argument, which then turned into an actual physical fight.
“We know that started as a fight, a physical fight, that escalated into gunfire,” Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate said in a Saturday press conference. “Several individuals engaged in that fight produced guns and there was an exchange of gunfire.”
That’s where the majority of the injuries came from, not as intentional targets but instead random bystanders caught in the crossfire. Police arrested two Virginia Beach residents, 18-year-old Nyquez Tyyon Baker and 20-year-old Devon Maurice Dorsey Jr., in connection with this incident. Police also arrested a 22-year-old Chesapeake resident, Ahmon, Jahree Adams, in connection with this case. All three face seven counts of felonious assault, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and reckless handling of a firearm.
To be clear, none of them face murder charges or have been linked to the other two cases, which we’ll touch on in a moment. Police said the three men are currently being held in the Virginia Beach City Jail.
One Person Killed on 19th Street
While police officers handled the Atlantic Avenue incident, they reported hearing gunshots around the 1900 block of Pacific Avenue. This led them to the second incident of the night, as officers found a shooting victim in the 300 block of 19th Street, just down from Pacific.
“The adult female victim in this shooting succumbed to her injuries at the scene,” Virginia Beach Police said in a statement. “It is not currently believed this shooting incident is related to the [Atlantic] incident.”
Police later identified the victim as 29-year-old Norfolk resident Deshayla E. Harris. Police officials said she was just a bystander who caught a stray bullet in the second shooting. Harris was a reality tv star, best known for her role in the Oxygen series Bad Girls Club. Labeled as “The Firecracker Fashionista”, Harris was part of the show’s 17th season.
Neudigate said Saturday the case is still under investigation.
“We truly believe she is an innocent victim that was probably struck by stray gunfire,” Neudigate said Saturday. “We have no material updates at this point and there are no arrests at this time.”
A Virginia Beach Officer Shot a Man on 20th Street
The third incident raises the most questions and, so far, has produced the fewest answers. While officers were dealing with the first two situations on Friday night, another shooting took place in the 300 block of 20th Street. This time, however, police know exactly who pulled the trigger, as it was a Virginia Beach officer.
The original statement released by Virginia Beach Police said that “one uniformed VBPD officer in immediate proximity of this location encountered an armed citizen, which resulted in a police involved shooting.”
The person shot and killed in this situation was 25-year-old Donovan Lynch. The former Norfolk Christian School offensive lineman, who played college football at UVA-Wise, died at the scene, according to reports.
However, during Neudigate’s press conference Saturday, a couple of issues came up. First, the officer didn’t turn on his body camera. The chief couldn’t say why the camera wasn’t turned on, but it didn’t appear to be a technical issue. Nobody activated it. Second, one day later he couldn’t even give the officer’s side of the story, because nobody had interviewed the man yet. Third, despite what the original press release stated, Neudigate admitted he couldn’t actually say Lynch was armed. Officers just found a gun somewhere in the vicinity.
“[There’s] no evidence linking the gun found in the vicinity to Lynch,” Neudigate said. “We have not had an opportunity to interview the officer yet. We don’t know what the circumstances are.”
Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at email@example.com.