Virginia Beach father whose son was gunned down speaks out at rally

Posted at 11:15 PM, Jan 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-30 09:54:40-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A small, determined group of about a dozen people met Monday night to offer suggestions -- and solutions -- to address gun violence in an area along Newtown Road with what one man calls "a serious crime problem."

James Risper, a longtime resident of Virginia Beach and the father of a gun violence victim, says the violence will not stop unless community members come out, speak up and take back their city.

“Older people have spoken with me. They’re scared to come out in their neighborhoods, and they shouldn’t be. Why should you be scared to come out of your own neighborhood at night?" Risper asked.

Risper said he thinks people involved in gun violence believe they will get away with it because they believe members of the community won’t speak up and tell police what they know.

“We have to understand that if we don’t stand up right now for what’s going on around us and get these young kids to put these guns down, the next kid that gets killed is going to be yours," Risper said.

Related: ‘I just wanted to die' Hampton mom turns grief into taking action for others after son's murder 

Some Virginia Beach residents say Newtown Road has become a notorious area for gun violence. Monday night's rally organizer says the area was near the spot where his son was gunned down in 2006.

“When I got that call that said my son was shot and killed, I never would have thought that it was going to be my son to get involved in something like that," Risper said.

Risper said his passion for this cause comes from his son, who he keeps in mind 100 percent of the way through. He said he will continue to keep going until he sees a difference in his community, and will continue to tell people, "If you see something, in order to create change, say something."