Residents in the Highland Gardens neighborhood in eastern Henrico County were expecting something bad to happen. The only question was when, several residents said Thursday.
It came in the early hours of Thursday morning when a man was killed and three others were critically wounded by gunfire at the intersection of Meadowbridge Road and Savannah Avenue. Neighbors said a former insurance sales office at that corner became a destination several months ago for late-night parties.
“Since they’ve moved in, it’s been nothing but chaos,” said Imani Moss, a homeowner who has lived in the neighborhood about two years. “There’s been a lot of stuff going on — people shooting, fighting. A bullet could have went through my window last night and I wouldn’t be standing before you today.”
The quadruple shooting on Thursday in eastern Henrico just outside the Richmond city limits marks the latest in a spate of shootings in recent weeks that has alarmed communities in the metro area. At least 28 people have been shot, five of them fatally, in Richmond and Henrico since July 7.
The violence included the shooting this week of five people, one fatally, outside a McDonald’s during daylight hours in a busy commercial section of Forest Hill Avenue in South Richmond. And in one eight-hour period last week, Richmond police reported that six people were shot in five separate incidents in the East End, North Side and South Side. A 15-year-old boy and a 31-year-old woman were killed, and the wounded included 3-year-old and 6-year-old girls.
The 3-year-old was lying in bed around 11 p.m. on July 14 when a bullet pierced her leg. Her stepfather, Kevin Rowland, heard what he thought were fireworks and could hear his stepdaughter crying. He knew she was afraid of fireworks, so he wasn’t surprised.
But when the child’s mother touched her leg, it was wet. There was blood coming through her pajama pants.
The child was rushed to the hospital, where a doctor decided not to remove the bullet fragment because it was close to an artery, Rowland said, adding that the doctor said the fragment might fall out as the child grows up.
“She’s actually back to herself; she’s playing,” Rowland said.
The 3-year-old was shot in the same drive-by that left a 15-year-old dead at George Mason Apartments at North 31st and P streets.
“When is it going to stop?” Rowland said of the recent shootings across Richmond and in Henrico. “Kids can’t even sleep in their bed or go out to play.”
“You can’t even get a meal at McDonald’s without possibly getting shot,” he added.
Devona Robinson had decided to move out of Richmond to Chesterfield County to get her family away from gun violence in the city.
Her deposit was paid and the move-in date was set when she got the call early on the morning of July 15 that her 6-year-old daughter was shot in her right leg while staying with Robinson’s parents in South Richmond.
Robinson reacted without hesitation: She and her husband scooped up their 5-month-old and rushed to her parents’ home on Summer Hill Avenue.
“I grabbed my baby and I left to get to my other baby,” she said.
Nobody else was hurt in the shooting, during which someone fired several rounds into the home from the front door, Robinson said.
Her daughter has been discharged from the hospital.
“She’s a soldier,” Robinson said. “God’s got plans for my baby.”
Law enforcement officials were unavailable in Richmond and Henrico to discuss the recent wave of shootings, but last week, Richmond officials held a news conference after the particularly violent night, when the two young girls were injured.
“If anyone in this community is not outraged that a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old were going about their lives, doing what they were doing, and ended up getting shot, then you need to check your heart,” said Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith. “If they’re not safe, we’re not safe.”
Deputy Chief Sydney Collier called the shooters “reckless.”
“It’s very concerning for us to have that level of violence in such a short period of time,” said
Malik J. Gary, 19, Thai-Kee Dunn-Brown, 19, Saki Nowacki, 21, and Devon D. Saunders were charged with attempted murder and use of firearm in connection with a shooting in the Fan District.
Thursday’s shooting in Highland Gardens took the life of Richard Jah’Ta Maxwell, 23, of Henrico. Three other men, ages 22 to 28, were taken to the hospital with critical injuries.
Henrico officers were near Laburnum Avenue and Meadowbridge Road when they heard gunfire at 3:13 a.m., the authorities said.
County police said there was a large crowd present at the time of the shooting. They said they had no suspects.
Moss, the Highland Gardens resident, said the building that hosts the late-night parties — the former insurance sales office — is a hair salon and car wash during the day. “At night, it’s like a nightclub,” she said.
Gunfire on another night within the past month damaged three parked cars that were for sale at a nearby business, the owner said. Henrico police did not fulfill a request for information on calls for service to the building at Meadowbridge Road and Savannah Avenue.
A woman standing outside the building on Thursday told a reporter and photographer to stay off the property. The owner of the property could not be reached for comment.
Henrico detectives are encouraging anyone with information to call Detective Noah at (804) 501-5000 Crime Stoppers at 780-1000.