Shootings in Hampton Roads increase as other crimes are on the decline amid COVID-19

Posted at 7:50 PM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 22:23:37-04

NORFOLK, Va. - "Those folks that have always been involved in gun violence - pandemic, hurricane or not - they are going to continue to do what they do,” said Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone.

Norfolk is among other cities in Hampton Roads that are experiencing similar crime during this pandemic.

"We did have two homicides that were domestic-related last month, which is somewhat unusual for us in terms of gun homicides,” Chief Boone adds.

He says overall, the city is seeing a 32% drop in crime since the beginning of the pandemic.

“One could probably attribute that to folks being at home,” Chief Boone says since Governor Ralph Northam’s "stay at home" order started a little more than a month ago.

"Our biggest challenge during this pandemic with respect to crime is still people using guns and pulling triggers - shooting into homes, shooting in your cars.”

In the region, other cities are seeing similar trends.

Portsmouth, Suffolk and Newport News Police are seeing a spike in shootings compared to April 2019.

Portsmouth Crime Data
Portsmouth crime data
Newport News Crime Data
Newport News crime data

Last year, Suffolk had one shooting into a car or home in the month of April. This year, they currently have eight.

In Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Williamsburg and Newport News, those cities are seeing a decline in robberies. Police believe this could be because more people are working from home.

In Chesapeake, police say there’s a 29% decrease in crimes, including aggravated assault and homicides.

Chesapeake Crime Data
Chesapeake crime data

The one crime most departments say continues to be a problem is domestic violence.

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“We've seen an increase of 15 incidents, so we're going to take a look at that and see what's going on there,” Chief Boone says.

Hampton Police say they haven’t seen a decrease in crime and say their homicides are up.

Chief Boone says the best way to tackle this is as a community.

"Criminals - they have no boundaries. I think if we strategically focus on those - particularly in our law enforcement family, those that we know are driving crime - we can make a huge impact in Hampton Roads."

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