'There are a flood of guns in the wrong hands,' Suffolk Police chief says at Stop the Violence forum

Suffolk Stop the Violence forum (January 30).PNG
Posted at 11:20 PM, Jan 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-30 23:29:37-05

SUFFOLK, Va. - In a Stop the Violence forum Sunday, Suffolk residents and parents who lost children to senseless gun violence came together.

The non-profit organization Wait a Gam Minute hosted the forum, giving citizens a chance to address their concerns to city leaders. Suffolk Police Chief Al Chandler and Suffolk Mayor Michael Duman were in attendance.

"Everything just got quiet, and he said ,‘Mom, I’m at peace.’ You might be, but I’m not. He didn’t deserve it. He’s not here, regardless," Debbie Kelly, a mother who lost her son to gun violence, tells News 3 reporter Leondra Head.

Like many other parents in the room, Kelly's son was a victim of gun violence in 2021. She wears a picture of her son, Diamonta Price, on her shirt to remember him.

"Even to the young man that killed my kid, I don’t wish this on his parents," Kelly said.

Chief Chandler listened as residents shared their experiences of losing a loved one to gun violence.

"There are a flood of guns in the wrong hands. We have a lot of people that have guns that should not have guns. We owe it to the person that is deceased. We owe it to the family that has been shattered in senseless violence to answer every question we possibly can," Chief Chandler tells News 3.

In 2021, the City of Suffolk had six homicides. Although that number is relatively low compared to other Hampton Roads cities, Chief Chandler says it's one too many.

"Of those six, we were able to solve all six of those homicides," Chandler said.

Mayor Duman took notice as residents addresses their concerns.

"I’m here for several reasons. The number one reason is to listen," Duman said.

City leaders say they are implementing plans to curb crime.

"It will be my goal to put together some type of public safety committee, board or commission," Duman said.

"We have several programs, a gunshot detection program that we are working on right now that we hope to put in place this year," Chandler said.

Chief Chandler says surveillance has been helpful in reducing crime.

"Cameras are invaluable. We also have trailer cameras we put in areas and try to deploy crime, but also to try to capture that crime if possible," he said.

Related: New Suffolk Police chief talks plans for the department