President of Virginia Beach Police union addresses deadly Oceanfront shootings in letter to city council

Posted at 12:01 AM, Mar 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 20:46:08-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The president of the Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association wrote a letter to city council Monday addressing the deadly shootings at the Oceanfront on Friday.

In the letter, of which News 3 obtained a copy, Brian Luciano says "the actions of the officers this night should be commended, not condemned" for their response to the incidents. He said no concern was shown for the Virginia Beach Police officer who was hit by a car, nor the officer who "had to take the life of another."

25-year-old Donovon W. Lynch, who played football for UVA Wise, was one of two people who was fatally shot Friday night. Police initially said he was armed, stating a gun was found in the vicinity of where the incident occurred. However, later Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate stated there was no evidence it was Lynch's gun.

Later Monday, VBPD released an update saying homicide detectives interviewed the officer involved in the shooting, another officer who witnessed the shooting and independent witnesses. Both officers reportedly said Lynch was "brandishing a handgun" at the time of the shooting. They say an independent witness said Lynch had a gun earlier that evening.

Police also said the officer who fired at Lynch didn't have his body camera activated. The department has not named the officer.

The Virginia Beach NAACP is calling for a Citizen Review Board with full investigative and subpoena powers. VBPD says the Virginia Beach Commonwealth Attorney's Office is conducting a separate investigation into the incident, independent of the one from the police department.

Luciano went on to chastise city officials for "putting time, effort, and money into investigating the police, as if we are the problem" instead of finding a "true solution" to the problems facing the city. He said that the increase of violence in the city is the result of "a decade of neglect" and that the police department is facing a shortage of 100 officers.

"You must stop looking for short cuts and do what we all know must be done. We are lacking in manpower. We are lacking in pay. We are lacking in benefits. We are lacking it technology. lt is time to act. Your citizens, business owners, and Police deserve better," he ended the letter.

Police say the rampage began as "some type of conflict" that escalated into a physical fight in which several people began shooting at each other.

29-year-old DeShayla Harris, who appeared on the reality show "Bad Girls Club," was the other victim who died during the violence. Officials say Harris was a bystander.

Eight other people were hurt.

As of Monday, no one has been arrested for the fatal shooting of Harris. Four people have been arrested on other charges stemming from the incidents.

Council members have called for a special session to address the violence.

“A major concern is the fact that it's only March and we have a very long summer ahead of us. I think this weekend made that quite obvious,” Luciano said Tuesday.

In terms of the manpower issue in the department, he said they can't provide good service for the rest of the city. Chief Neudigate agreed.

Related: Virginia Beach Police Chief provides insight into body cam policy, other Oceanfront shootings updates

"The people in rest of the city, have a right to walk down their own beach that their taxes paid for and to feel safe," said Luciano.

Click here to read Luciano's full letter.

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