NORFOLK, Va. — A growing vigil outside of Chicho's along Granby Street in Downtown Norfolk is where more people are paying their respects to the victims in Saturday's early morning shooting, which killed two people and hurt three others.
Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone says he spoke with the family members of the victims during an interview Tuesday afternoon. The chief says this past weekend's tragic scene is something he's trying to prevent from happening again, but it comes with its challenges.
The police department currently has about 219 vacancies. Chief Boone says it's because of a mixture of problems including pay range, people retiring, and some leaving people leaving following the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
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"Even in our best of times when we were fully staffed, we had issues on Granby Street," said Boone. "Yeah, we have our hands full."
Boone said he plans to bring in more patrols along Granby Street starting Thursday. However, because of those vacancies, Boone said he has to pull those officers from his special units.
He hopes it'll help the night-time hours beginning at 8 p.m. for businesses and people in the area.
"We don't want to look like the military that we're occupying Granby Street," said Boone. "But we need to find a healthy balance so that folks will feel comfortable and come out and those with bad intentions will feel uncomfortable."
A larger police presence brings comfort to people who live nearby like Jordan Rogers. Rogers told 13News Now she woke up to people screaming early Saturday morning when the shooting happened.
"We heard the five or six gunshots go off and we saw the fire come to the scene, police come to the scene," said Rogers." At the time, we saw there was only one police officer outside."
Now with the promise of more security downtown, Rogers said she feels like she can walk around more easily at night.
"It makes us more comfortable just to live here, because there's so many people who live on this strip who want to feel comfortable to walk their dog or go up the street to get food or something," said Rogers. "So, it's exciting to hear they're going to do something about it."
As his team works to recruit more police officers, Boone said he is prioritizing his units to the Downtown area of Norfolk to address the late-night violence. He said he wants to make changes, but this problem can't be solved overnight.
"We know we are in some difficult times. We have been for the last two years," said Boone. "I understand the challenges, but we have to do this and I believe we will."
Chief Boone said his investigators are still working on finding the person or people responsible for this shooting. Meanwhile, the owners of Chicho's wrote the following statement:
"Over the weekend, our Norfolk community witnessed a heartbreaking tragedy. We are devastated that the lives of Sierra Jenkins and Devon M. Harris were taken and individuals were injured due to senseless acts of violence. Our hearts go out to their families and everyone impacted.
Our collective hope is that we take care of one another, protect each other, and stand together.
We are looking into hiring local law enforcement to help monitor the crowds on the sidewalks. As a local-owned business in the Hampton Roads, ensuring our community’s safety is top priority for our employees, customers, and community."
If you know any information, you are asked to call the Norfolk Police Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.