PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The alarming rise in gun violence has one Portsmouth community on edge.
This comes as police try to find the suspect who shot and killed three people inside a home in Prentis Park Tuesday morning and sent another to the hospital.
Several neighbors who live in Prentis Park knew some of the victims and said they were nice people. But, many of them didn’t want to say that on-camera with News 3 and that seems to be the problem.
They’re simply afraid of retaliation.
Police Chief Renado Prince, however, said he needs tips and information from the community to help solve these crimes.
“We’ve lost the art of conversation,” Prince said. “There are no conversations anymore. There are no arguments anymore. There’s action. The insult’s received. They hunt the person down and shoot them wherever they find them.”
A neighbor and one victim’s sister are echoing that sentiment, saying now’s the time to talk.
Hector Stallins has lived in Portsmouth all his life. He says he grew up around crime, but the recent rash of violent shootings in the city and sweeping the nation are on another level.
“This city right now, and not just city but this whole America, is going through an epidemic and a pandemic of Black youth murdering Black youth behind nothing,” said Stallins.
Stallins lives a couple blocks away from where the horror unfolded Tuesday morning. Police said three people died in a triple homicide inside a home on Maple Avenue.
Oleisha Deanna Mears, 37; Ashley Merricks, 34; and Georgio Davonta Lee, 30, were all shot dead.
A 66-year-old man, who was also home, was badly wounded and is fighting for his life in the hospital.
Police said the home where all the victims lived is a boarding house.
Lee’s sister Shecora Lee said she just saw her brother the other day.
“I forgot to tell him I love him,” she said. “I forgot to tell him I love him at the end and that’s what hurts the most.”
Now, she wants answers and is begging for someone who knows something to speak up.
“We need to know what happened,” Lee said. “We have a lot of people out here; someone may know something. Come and speak with the police. Say something. You won’t get away with it. I promise you that. You won’t get away with it.”
Stallins is making the same passionate plea to end the bloodshed
“The violence is everywhere,” he said. “They don’t care nothing about them to gain, and it’s not gaining anything but hate amongst each other.”
Police believe an SUV is connected to this crime. They’re looking for a 2011 black GMC Acadia with Virginia tags. Detectives are asking anyone who might know where the SUV could be, or if they have any information on the triple homicide, to call police.