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'Everybody should be angry' | Portsmouth police chief responds to violent weekend

Chief Stephen Jenkins spoke with 13News Now about the rash of gun violence that has rocked the City of Portsmouth, and he did not mince words.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The top cop in Portsmouth is fired up by the gun violence rattling his city. From Friday to Monday, five separate shooting incidents left one woman dead and at least six other people hurt. 

Portsmouth Police Chief Stephen Jenkins was poised to update city council members of the status of crime in the city during a work session Tuesday night. 

However, because of another city presentation which went longer than planned, council members decided to move Jenkins' update to a special session at a future date. 

Still, the chief spoke with 13News Now about the rash of gun violence rocking the City of Portsmouth, and he did not mince words.

"I'm sick of it and everybody else in this city is sick of it," he said. 

Jenkins also said he is troubled by people resorting to guns rather than resolving conflicts peacefully.

"Everybody should be angry with the fact that we have cowards in our community that will shoot randomly into a lot of people," said Chief Jenkins. "If that doesn't anger you, then you're part of the problem as well." 

Jenkins pointed to the shooting at Dale Homes on Friday as an example. He said he believes the two women injured and the one woman killed in that incident fell victim to indiscriminate firing.

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From the chief’s count, the murder of 31-year-old Erica Atkins stemming from that night at Dale Homes put the number of gun-related murder victims in Portsmouth this year at 27.

Around this time last year, the city had at least 28 murder victims, according to a presentation the chief made.

Based on FBI data, 2022 went on to break the city's record for homicides in a single year at 42.

"It's something you don't even want your worst enemy to go through," said Debra Jones, a lifelong Portsmouth resident. 

She knows the pain of losing a loved one to gun violence. She told 13News Now her 34-year-old son, Jamel Howell, was killed in 2019.

"It's happening too much and it seems like the people that can help solve it or take it down a notch are sitting back, like it hasn't happened to them yet," said Jones. 

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"Understand, this gun violence we're dealing with has absolutely nothing to do with resources. That is a lack of morality, that is a lack of civility," Chief Jenkins added.  

He promised his officers are throwing everything they've got into these cases, "We're doing the work, but it takes more than that. It's bigger than just the police department."

Jenkins said that work means people in the community stepping up to take a stand against the violence, including suspects of the criminal acts into police.

No arrests have been made yet in connection to the shootings since Friday.

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