Chesapeake Police, state delegate push for technology to help gun crime investigations

Posted at 7:30 AM, Feb 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-02 07:36:48-05

Gun violence has been a big issue throughout Hampton Roads throughout the pandemic. It's also an issue News 3 Investigates has been looking into for nearly two years, digging deeper into technology law enforcement is using to curb crime.

READ: Trigger Trace: A look into guns recovered throughout Hampton Roads

Shana Turner has been taking it day by day for more than four years.

“I live this every single day,” Turner told News 3. “I don't wish this on any parent or any family member.”

Turner is referring to December 12, 2017, when she said her son, Shaq, 25, was killed while on his way from work in Virginia Beach to pick up his fiancée in Norfolk.

“He tracked him down on the interstate, and he created an accident,” Turner recalled. “Shaq had no other choice but to get out and fight. He got shot 9 times, and the bullet to the head is what killed my baby.”

“The way he died, it was very tragic for all of us,” Turner added. “It's very important, to me, to keep his light shining.”

Since Shaq’s death, Turner has stepped up with her organization, MASK (Mothers Against Senseless Killings), helping other families impacted by gun violence in Hampton Roads.

“The people that I've come across, they've felt more comfortable talking to me, because we took that walk together,” Turner said.

Meanwhile, police in Chesapeake are also acting, tackling gun violence and improving investigations.

“We're doing all that we can do, legally, to make sure we hold those responsible accountable,” CPD Chief Kelvin Wright said. “When you have a shooting, the clock is ticking. The longer it takes for us to solve the case, the more difficult it can become.”

Chief Wright, along with local Virginia Delegate Cliff Hayes, is spearheading an effort to get a NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network) machine for the department.

News 3 has talked with other Hampton Roads police chiefs about the technology from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

READ: Behind-the-scenes look at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives National Tracing Center

“There's a lot of shell casings that remain at the scene. These shell casings are evidence, and these shell casings give us clues as to who might be involved in the crime, or if that gun has been used in previous crimes,” Wright said. “We're looking at being able to take that information and get that useable intel very quickly to help us resolve some of these matters.”

According to ATF officials, the way NIBIN technology works is it compares images of ballistic evidence submitted from shooting scenes, plus firearms recovered from that scene, and produces a list of possible similar results.

Trained technicians then review these results, identifying NIBIN leads, or potential links or associations from the same firearm.

“We had an incident occur a year ago, early in the morning. A young man was shot, there was some evidence left at the scene, some casings. Later that day, we had another young man that was shot in another part of the city. Same caliber,” Wright told News 3. “It was not until months later that we got the information back from the state lab that we knew that the two shootings were related. Had we had our own [NIBIN] machine, we'd found that out in less than 48 hours.”

Del. Hayes has put in a budget amendment in this current session for $250,000 to help the City of Chesapeake get the technology and share it with Portsmouth and Suffolk.

“We're going to have the tools to link these situations together,” Hayes said.

“Crime has no boundaries,” Hayes added. “Rather than us just trying to solve what's going on in our city alone, it'll all put us in a leveled space in dealing with crimes.”

A leveled space, Turner hopes, will help investigators and families get answers quickly.

“I say to the people that are perpetrators when you're out here, you're actually ruining families' lives [and] your family's life, because you should feel important to your family too,” Turner said.

READ: What is straw purchasing firearms? Here's what authorities, gun shop owners are seeing locally

News 3 also obtained numbers from the Chesapeake Police Department for 2020-2021 for firearms recovered, stolen firearms recovered, and the total number of firearms seized from convicted felons:

Recovered 26
Seized 79
Stolen 298

Recovered 18
Seized 48
Stolen 359

READ: Norfolk Police, ATF address local impacts related to straw purchasing of firearms