Mother featured in video campaign encouraging tips for Portsmouth cold cases, hopes son’s killer comes forward

Operation Ceasefire Portsmouth
Posted at 7:35 PM, Jun 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-28 19:39:06-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Monica Atkins’ son’s murder is still unsolved seven years later.

The Chesapeake mother’s desperate plea for answers is highlighted in an emotional video campaign, known as Operation Ceasefire Portsmouth.

“Please interceded to be the change or to say something,” Atkins says in the video.

The three videos are part of the city’s Crime Prevention Plan. Three parents, including Atkins, have teamed up with Portsmouth Police to share their stories of heartbreak in hopes of finding their child’s killer and solving the crime.

“Portsmouth’s so small and I’m sure someone knows who’s behind the murder of my son,” Atkins said.

Atkins’ 25-year-old son Antonio was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting along Effingham Street in Portsmouth in 2014.

To this day, his murder remains a cold case.

“I don’t have closure or justice for my son,” Atkins said. “So, it’s always great to always reiterate my story to the public, so if they know something, say something.

Atkins said Antonio was murdered just a few months after the birth of his son. He became a dad again several months later to another son he would never meet.

His boys are now seven years old. They’ve been robbed of the chance to get to know the love from their father.

“Just to always see his smile, it represents who he was as a person,” Atkins said. “He was very respectful. He was a loving person and during the time they took his life, he was a happy father.”

Since her son’s death, Atkins has been on the front lines fighting to curb crime as part of the grassroots group Stop the Violence 757.

“This is just not my community,” she said. “It’s all of our community and the only way to make our community safe again is to get the individuals who’s doing these crimes off the streets.”

To do that, the Chesapeake mother says people need to come forward and speak up.

“We deserve justice for our children,” Atkins says in the video campaign.

She believes the video will help compel her son’s killer to come forward.

“That guilt…guilt can eat you up for so long,” said Atkins.

The videos are in the final stages of editing and are expected to be released soon through social media, YouTube and possibly advertised on a billboard.

The three videos were produced by Aaron Cohen and Greg Gadberry with the city's video production team, and Victoria Varnedoe, the PIO for the Portsmouth Police Department.

For Atkins, her hope is that someone with information will say something.