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

3 more suspects arrested
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Posted at 2:13 PM, Mar 30, 2021

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - During the Virginia Beach City Council's special sessions meeting Tuesday afternoon, Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate provided updates on the string of incidents that took place at the Oceanfront on Friday.

Neudigate provided updates on the first shooting that took place on Atlantic Avenue that resulted in the arrest of three men.

The chief said that they are still investigating, but have evidence that five males were firing guns and nine people were shot, including six men and three women. Neudigate says one woman is still in hospital seriously injured.

According to the update, the people arrested are affiliated with local gangs.

Police Chief Neudigate says three additional arrests were made and police are seeking federal charges for some. He says more arrests may come.

Hours after the meeting, VBPD provided more information on the three other people who were arrested:

25-year-old Gerald Scott Thomas II of Virginia Beach has been charged with selling a firearm to a convicted felon; failure to perform a criminal history check prior to sale of a firearm; possession with the intent to distribute a schedule I or II controlled substance; possession with the intent to distribute marijuana and felon in possession of ammunition.

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Gerald Scott Thomas II

19-year-old Jhaimeek Kerion Carter of Virginia Beach has been charged with three counts of selling a firearm to a convicted felon; failure to perform a criminal history check prior to the sale of a firearm and possession with the intent to distribute a schedule I or II controlled substance.

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Jhaimeek Kerion Carter

18-year-old Tyereis Smith of Virginia Beach has been charged with three counts of selling a firearm to a convicted felon and failure to run a criminal history check prior to selling a firearm.

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Tyereis Smith

Officers from the department's Special Investigations Unit executed the search warrants with help from Virginia State Police and the ATF on March 28. Two of the warrants were served in the 100 block of Shoreview Court, and one was served in the 900 block of Atlantis Drive.

In regards to the shooting in the 300th block of 19th Street that took the life of 29-year-old DeShayla Harris. Neudigate says Harris and her friends were on the sidewalk when she was shot by a stray bullet.

Fifty-six shells were recovered from the scene Chief Neudigate stated during the briefing.

Neudigate also provided another update on the officer fatally shooting Donovon Lynch.

Chief Neudigate added that homicide detectives interviewed both the officer involved in the shooting and one plain-clothed detective that was also at the scene.

He says as of Tuesday there is no video available, but they are working to obtain any business's private cameras to see if any footage was caught since the officer's body cam was not on.

Chief Neudigate says issues with the body cam holster may have caused it not to activate when the gun comes out, but it should turn on. The chief says certain parts needed for the holster are currently on backorder.

The police chief noted that he does not know of any police departments that keep cameras rolling at all times because of privacy concerns but added that their department has embraced the technology. Chief Neudigate said cameras hold themselves and the community accountable.

Chief says in his 32 years of policing, this is the only officer-involved shooting that he has worked on with no video or witnesses.

He stated that just like everyone else, the police department wants transparency as well.

City Council member Aaron Rouse commended the police chief for asking for State Police's assistance in the investigation.

When Rouse asked about the body cam policy, Chief Neudigate stated that the officer's reasoning for the camera not being activated is still being investigated.

Despite many cameras at the Oceanfront, they did not capture the killing of Lynch. The chief says he is not against adding more cameras to the area.

Vice Mayor Jim Wood says they have already spent $3 million on cameras at Oceanfront, but they are only 50% covered.

The Virginia Beach NAACP has called for a Citizen Review Board with full investigative and subpoena powers. Tuesday night, the organization issued the following statement on the special session:

The Virginia Beach NAACP Branch was pleased to hear during today’s City Council Special Session that the investigation into the shooting death of Mr. Donovan Lynch will be handled by the Virginia State Police. This branch was not pleased with the previous statement by Chief Neudigate stating that a gun was found in the vicinity of the incident. His failure to also state that Mr. Lynch was a legally licensed gun owner was an attempt to shift the perception of the public’s view toward Mr. Lynch. The police department has access to gun permit/licensure information, so the Virginia Beach Branch NAACP has no reason to believe the intent was other than malicious. This is one of the reasons an external agency was requested by the branch.

Furthermore, Chief Neudigate complaints of understaffing, equipment preferences, and equipment on back order is nothing new. The police force has been understaffed for years. However, the Virginia Beach Branch NAACP will not allow our focus to be watered down by those organizational objectives.

Our inquiry is two-fold . Why was Mr. Donovan Lynch shot on March 26, 2021? And why did the police officer who shot Mr. Donovan Lynch not activate his Body-Worn Camera?
Virginia Beach NAACP