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As violence continues in Portsmouth, residents look for solutions

Pastor Barry Randall is taking a new approach to gun violence prevention in 2023.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Portsmouth police officers responded to two separate shootings on Wednesday. 

“It’s sad," Portsmouth resident Lawrence Harris said. "Every week somebody is getting killed.”

As the city experiences crime already into the new year, a community activist is responding with a new approach to gun violence prevention.

“It seems like they’re bringing the same pattern from last year into this year,” said Pastor Barry Randall.

Randall had hoped to start a new chapter in 2023.

“Not only just coming into the new year but leaving last year," he said. "I believe the last week we had roughly some five to six shootings and some of them were fatal.”

On Wednesday afternoon, officers responded to two separate shootings. The first happened on West Road. One man had to go to the hospital but police say he is expected to survive. The second shooting on Turnpike Road killed 29-year-old Mikeous Freeman and injured another man.

Pastor Randall is not the only one tired of the violence. Portsmouth residents like Harris are frustrated too.

“It ain’t even the same when I was growing up," Harris said. "It’s completely different. They only live to get to 25 years old.”

That's why Randall is taking the lessons learned from 2022 to create a new strategy to prevent crime. It includes getting community members involved in developing new crime prevention efforts rather than telling them about new programs.

“It’s now time to bring those people to the table and say, ‘Hey, what do you think we should be offering your community?'” Randall said.

“I hope the community can come together,” Harris.

Pastor Randall also wants to work with the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office to expand his program "Challenge" which deals with at-risk youth.

“It’s now time that we develop some antonyms from that word challenge such as ‘peace,’ answer... it’s time that we give the citizens an answer so that they can experience the peace that they so desire.”

He remains hopeful that these efforts will make a difference.

“I’m very hopeful and optimistic that our better days are ahead. We just cannot give up,” Randall said.

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