RICHMOND, Va. -- Marijuana is behind Richmond's recent spike in gun violence, according to Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham. Speaking to media at the scene of Richmond's latest homicide, the chief took aim at the drug that has been legalized in eight states and the District of Columbia.
"The majority of the gun violence is tied to marijuana. We talk about drugs. Not heroin, not cocaine, but marijuana," the chief said while detectives investigated Wednesday night's double homicide on Decatur Street in South Richmond. "I can't say if that's the case here, but that's what we've seen in a lot of our shootings in recent days."
The chief indicated marijuana drug deals were the root of many recent Richmond shooting.
"The last couple of days we have seen a significant increase in the individuals being shot here in the city," the chief said. "We are approaching the summer and it's like the tide -- it ebbs and flows."
Richmond Shooting Spree
In the last 10 days, some of the shootings investigated by Richmond Police include:
The morning of May 30, a man was shot on East Broad Street, near the Convention Center, in downtown Richmond. Witnesses stated the shooting occurred after the victim and suspect got into an argument.
A 31-year-old Richmond man was arrested the same day and charged with felonious assault and use of a firearm in commission of a felony.
The next day, May 31, 28-year-old Tyreece D. Gayles was shot and killed inside a home on Ambrose Street in Whitcomb Court. His case was classified as "a death investigation." An arrest in the case has not yet been made.
Over the weekend, on June 4, there was a Sunday night shooting outside the 7-Eleven on Patterson Avenue, near Libbie Avenue, in Richmond's West End.
A 19-year-old Richmond man was arrested in connection to the shooting and charged with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony. Crime Insider sources told reporter Jon Burkett stemmed from a botched drug deal.
On Tuesday afternoon, shots were fired after an argument between men at a South Belvidere Street barber shop.
Police said the two men were arguing inside a barber shop when the violence spilled onto the sidewalk and shots were fired.
Crime Insider sources told Jon Burkett the argument over marijuana.
Investigators said one man opened fire and shot another man in the chest.
The victim was rushed to the hospital and survived the shooting. No arrest has been announced the shooting.
Decatur Street Double Homicide
Detectives are still investigating Wednesday night's double homicide, hoping to identify suspects and a motive.
"This is a quiet neighborhood. We have not had any violence in this area at all this year," Chief Durham said at the Southside crime scene. "I know in years past we had some challenges in this community, but that has not been the case for this year."
Police were called to the 3600 block of Decatur Street at about 9:53 p.m. when someone reported hearing gunfire.
"Officers arrived and found a male down and unresponsive in the street. Nearby on the sidewalk another male was found down and unresponsive. Both had suffered an apparent gunshot wound," a Richmond Police spokesperson said. "Responders from the Richmond Ambulance Authority pronounced both males dead at the scene. The Medical Examiner will determine cause and manner of death."
Chief Durham encouraged neighbors who saw something -- to say something.
"We are doing the very best we can as a police department, I think the community is fed up, we've been getting a lot of eyewitness accounts of what's going on in our communities and we still need that support," he said.
Anyone with information about the Decatur Street homicide was asked to call Major Crimes Detective J. Fultz at 804-646-3929 or Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.