NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WVEC) - Five people were murdered within one week in Newport News. The latest happened Thursday night at the Harper's Landing apartment complex on Adams Dr. Police say 24-year-old Marquial Manley was pronounced dead at the scene.
13News Now sat down with Mayor McKinley Price to talk about the recent bout of violence. Price says a special task force is actively working to get criminals off the streets, but that prevention must begin with gun legislation reform.
"Legislation has consequences so when you have legislation that makes it easier for guns to be obtained, it has consequences. It's just too easy to purchase a gun these days. We must get guns off the streets," he said.
So far in 2016, there were over 110 shootings in the city compared to 67 around the same time last year. Police Chief Richard Myers said in a statement that in many of these cases, the suspect and the victim knew each other. He also said a lot of the victims and witnesses are not talking to police. He says that needs to stop, and he's urging people to speak up.
Residents like Rosa Cottons say they want to see a bigger police presence in the neighborhoods.
"You think it's safe where you live but it ain't safe," she said.
Mayor Price says the City is doing its best to make that happen, but there is a shortage of police officers, and that makes it tough.
"We're 40 policemen short. We're actively recruiting but we just don't want to hire anyone. We have standards that we want. But we are working overtime with the personnel that we have but we do need more policeman.
Chief Myers full statement is below:
“Like all citizens of Newport News, we are troubled by the recent spate of shootings and homicides. It is important, however, to keep some perspective on violence in Newport News. We can all agree that those who lost their lives they did not deserve to die, they leave behind loved ones who are grieving their loss, and the entire community suffers a loss when any of our residents are killed. In several incidents, there was a prior relationship with the persons who did the shooting. In several incidents, there are eyewitnesses and victims themselves who will not cooperate or provide any information to the police to help bring the violent actors to justice. Again, none of this justifies the tragedy of a lost life, nor does it explain why it happened. What it does do, sadly, is illuminate that for a very small number of our residents, violence is a chosen path and the consequences of it can be swift and severe for those engaged in high risk behavior such as drug dealing, gang participation and association. We call on the COMMUNITY to stand up against the violence and announce, “Enough.” Help us to solve these heinous crimes, help us to get the guns used to kill against our young people off the streets, and help us remove the very isolated incidents of violence that put fear in our community, even when the risk of violence is low except for those engaged in it criminal activity. Make a difference in OUR community today.”