A hospital was overwhelmed. Emergency response teams were stretched thin. And a city is again grappling with gun violence after at least 14 people were shot in separate incidents overnight.
Seven of the victims — with two dead — were shot at a house party in the 5000 block of Killam Avenue near the Old Dominion University campus, police said.
Officers were alerted to the shooting around midnight Sunday — at the scene they found four women and three men with gunshot wounds. All were taken to a local hospital, police said; two had life-threatening injuries.
Police later said Zabre Miller, 25, and Angelia McKnight, 19, died at the hospital. McKnight, a native of New York, was a student at Norfolk State University, the school confirmed Sunday afternoon. No details were immediately available about Miller.
A Facebook post Sunday morning from NSU indicated several victims were students at the school. The post said they were bystanders at a house party when gunfire broke out.
Brittney Beamon, who lives one house down, was cooking dinner for her family when she heard several shots.
“We were just on the ground with our babies, making sure we didn’t get hit, making sure they didn’t get hit,” she said.
No bullets hit their house, but according to Beamon, it sounded like hundreds of shots were fired.
“There were a bunch of shells just right over there,” she said, pointing at the corner down the street.
Beamon said she thought she saw a few people with injuries running from the party after the gunfire stopped, only for her to hear more shots a few blocks away.
Zariah Johnson lives next door to where the shooting took place and said the shots woke her up. She waited until the gunfire abated, then peeked out the window.
“I saw a boy laying there with blood all over his face,” she said. “That was someone’s baby.”
Another neighbor said the shooting “sounded vicious.” The neighbor, who asked not to be named to avoid bringing attention to herself, shared video with The Virginian-Pilot of the immediate aftermath of the shooting before police or ambulances arrived. In one video, a pair of young men are shown tending to someone who is injured. One of the men continuously claps his hands, apparently to try to keep the injured person conscious.
In the other video, a young woman is shown running out of the 5005 Killam Ave. residence as others walk around the parking lot while urgent yelling and screaming can be heard in the background. Another person can be seen sitting on the porch awning with their feet hanging over the edge.
The neighbor said they heard about 30 gunshots. They didn’t see the shooter, nor did they know anyone at the party.
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital reported its level-one trauma center went into lockdown just after midnight Sunday for about an hour because of the “surge of patients from a significant incident of gun violence.” The hospital resumed normal operations when the situation stabilized.
“During (gun violence) incidents like this, Sentara leadership can decide to limit or lock down access to the hospital including the emergency department for the safety of our staff and patients,” said Lee Gwaltney, a spokesperson for Sentara.
Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander addressed the high rate of gun violence during a news conference Sunday afternoon with Interim Police Chief Mike Goldsmith and Sheriff Joe Baron.
Goldsmith mentioned several shootings Saturday night with at least 14 people shot in separate instances. The shooting on Killam Avenue was near another on Monarch Way, just a few blocks away. Goldsmith said police are investigating to see whether the two are related.
Three people were shot and taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital from the 9600 block of 18th Bay Street at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday night.
One person was shot on Nicholson Street at about midnight, and at about 2:45 a.m. an individual in the 800 block of N. Military Highway was shot and killed.
Police did not release any information about possible suspects or motives in any of the shootings.
Those living around Killam Avenue, like Johnson, said they felt the response time by police and EMS was too slow.
Baron said is not uncommon in situations with many shootings for departments to ask for assistance when their staff cannot sufficiently investigate all crime scenes. That creates a lag in response-time.
Due to how many individuals needed medical attention, there were not sufficient ambulances to transport the injured. Virginia Beach provided a fire engine and an ambulance and Chesapeake provided a fire engine.
Goldsmith also said investigators are using the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network to track the owners of the weapons with the bullet casings.
According to Goldsmith, these shootings are a product of poor conflict resolution and are preventable.
“This is what is frustrating about this right now,” Goldsmith said. “People get into a disagreement, they pull out a gun and they shoot each other.”
During the news conference, City Manager Chip Filer said he will work with other officials and departments on sensible solutions to violent crime prevention.
Alexander said gun reform and community action are key to preventing violent crime.
“Violence has no place in the City of Norfolk,” Alexander said.
© 2022 The Virginian-Pilot
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.