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Families of gun violence victims in Portsmouth search for answers

A group of families gathered outside the Portsmouth Courthouse asking for better communication and efforts from city leaders.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — “It’s killing us," Calvine Parker said. "It’s killing me.”

There’s not a day Parker doesn’t think about her brother, Melvin Bynum. 

Portsmouth police found Bynum shot and killed on George Washington Highway in June 2022.

“There were two shooters," she said. 

"It was in broad open daylight, and they told me the case went cold in October.”

Parker said she didn’t get an update from a detective about the case until about two weeks ago. She’s one of about a dozen families who gathered outside the Portsmouth courthouse Tuesday looking for answers. 

Operation Deborah is a sub-group of the organization Unseen Tears, which is made up of families & survivors of gun violence. The founder of the organization brought these people together.

"The information flow is not as fluid as we would hope," Cedric Cradle said, the founder of Unseen Tears.

 “When somebody decides that they have the right to take another life…there is no pain like that," Felicia Cowfer said.

Cowfer said someone shot and killed her son in February 2022.

 Police arrested a man in the case. While Cowfer says she's communicated with the Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney Office about the case, she feels communication has fallen flat.

“When I lost my son, my family broke apart, and I have nothing that I can even tell them,”she said.

Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales said her office has a frequent line of communication with victims’ families.

“The doors of our office are and have always been open, and I invite any family to come inside,” she said.

Morales said she and her team are ready to meet with any family members who have concerns about their victim’s case or legal proceedings.

“I make myself available," Morales said. 

"I have met with families frequently. Our attorneys and our victims witness team, they meet with families frequently and we will continue to do that. Nothing has changed and nothing will change."

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