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Gas Giveaway: Norfolk police officers shut down $5,000 event after traffic back-up

According to event organizers, the back-up became a "safety concern," but drivers still got a voucher for free gasoline.

NORFOLK, Va. — A Norfolk church gave away $5,000 in free gasoline this morning, but things didn't quite go according to plan.

Norfolk Police Department officers had to shut the whole thing down after the gas giveaway prompted a big traffic jam that officers felt was a safety concern.

The gas giveaway started at 9 a.m., but people began lining up for fuel as early as 7 a.m. 

Traffic backed up all way down Campostella Road onto Brambleton Avenue, and police officers on scene said traffic had backed up onto the highway as well, causing a traffic jam on I-264.

Johnnie Felton is the pastor at Morning Star United Holy Church, the group responsible for the gas giveaway.

“It became an unsafe situation. You had too many people coming from too many directions – trying to cut in on other people, and they began to block up one lane and started backing up another lane,” Felton said. 

"The traffic was backed up across the Campostella Bridge to the Campostella exit, coming off 264.” 

Although he didn’t get a chance to fill up any tanks – all is not lost. His team spent the morning passing out free gasoline vouchers to people in line to come back later and fill up their tanks.

“We signed them, numbered them, so that the people who are here can still get their gas," Felton said. 

“To try to be a blessing to people and help them out during these tough situations, tough economic times.”

The church was giving away $5,000 worth of free gas. Felton said it was first come, first serve, with each car getting $30 in free fuel.   

Driver Adrien Ivy was hoping to fill up her tank.

“I came out like a thousand more people to get some gas because times are hard," Ivy said. “The line is here to North Carolina!” 

With gas costing more than $4.30, Ivy said even a little free gas is a big help. 

"I hope to get a voucher, because I have a truck and it cost about $100 to fill it up," she said.

If you were in line this morning and got that free gas voucher, you have until 10 p.m. tonight to fill up.

Norfolk police, meanwhile, got the traffic jam cleared up before 10 a.m. 

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