Months after 18 year-old's killing in Norfolk, family says they've been left in the dark

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Posted at 3:05 PM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 17:41:34-04

NORFOLK, Va. - The City of Norfolk saw 62 homicides in 2021.

One of them happened in November just off of Chesapeake Boulevard, leaving 18-year-old Gyasi Brathwaite dead. Months later, the shooting remains unsolved, and Brathwaite's family is growing frustrated about the lack of information.

"My family and myself, we support law enforcement to the utmost. However, this is an issue that is frustrating," Marcus James, Brathwaite's grandfather, told News 3 on Friday.

James has been pushing to get answers, calling detectives, emailing the chief, even going to the police operations center to try and talk to someone, but he says he's received just limited communication.

"We are still victims of crime and we still depend on the Norfolk Police Department to do the best they can," James said. "We still need answers on my grandson's murder."

Brathwaite's mother has also been trying to get information from police and believes the case has been passed off to a new detective, whom she's hoping to meet with in-person.

"I don't know why it happened. I don't know who did it. I don't know if there are ever going to be any consequences or even if I'll find out what happened," Tomeka Lyles said.

Police have released few details in the case. Officers responded to a car accident on November 22 and found Brathwaite suffering from gunshot wounds, a press release from the time says. Medics took him to the hospital, but he died.

A police department spokesman told News 3 Friday officers have closed 41 of the 62 homicide cases in 2021 for a 66 percent clearance rate.

The spokesman did not respond to questions about how a shortage of police officers is impacting detectives. There are currently 226 vacancies in the police department.

News 3 spoke with Chief Larry Boone last week about staffing shortages following a shooting in downtown that led to five people being shot with two of them dying. "Anytime you're dealing with shortages, it's challenging. You don't do more with less," he said.

Brathwaite's family says even a simple text message from a detective would mean a lot.

"Even if it's just a text to say no new information, I would be happy with that. At least I would know someone is working, someone is looking for information," Lyles said.

They're hoping word will eventually reach them of an arrest.

"It would mean some sort of closure," Lyles said. "It's very scary to not know who did what to my son and not know why."