James CrumpSat, 27 March 2021, 8:35 pm
Two people were killed and eight more were injured in a series of shootings near the oceanfront in Virginia Beach on Friday night.
The incidents occurred between 11 and 11:30pm, as the Virginia Beach Police Department confirmed that several of the victims suffered life-threatening injuries in the shootings.
At least eight people were shot at around 11pm in the first incident, after gunfire broke out close to the ocean at the popular spring break destination on Friday.
Police chief Paul Neudigate confirmed in a statement that while the authorities were responding to that scene, more shots were fired at a location nearby, with an officer fatally shooting a suspect.
A second person was fatally shot not long after in another incident that the department does not believe was connected to the two other shootings.
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According to Mr Neudigate, it all started with a fist fight on Atlantic Avenue and 20th Street, in the Oceanfront Resort area.
“The preliminary investigation indicates that a group of individuals were involved in some type of conflict that resulted in a physical fight,” Mr Neudigate said in a statement.
“At some point during the physical altercation, several individuals produced firearms and began shooting at each other, resulting in numerous people being wounded.”
As police were responding to that first shooting, they heard gunshots at a second location on Pacific Avenue. A female victim in that second shooting, which police believe was unrelated to the first, died of her injuries, Mr Neudigate said.
A police officer in the area of that shooting encountered an adult male “armed citizen,” the statement continued, and a “police-involved shooting” ensued. The armed citizen then died.
Mr Neudigate said that the second deadly incident appeared to be “a separate shooting incident that we’re still trying to piece together,” before calling the evening “a very chaotic night at the beach.”
Two security guards on duty nearby told The Virginian-Pilot that they witnessed the events unfold, including seeing the officer in pursuit of a man they believe to be the shooter.
They also saw the female victim get shot as she came out of the side door of the Nightmare Mansion on the corner of 20th Street and Atlantic Avenue.
One of the guards, Adrian Montgomery, told the outlet that his nephew was among those injured in the initial firefight and was scheduled for surgery on Saturday.
Video footage showed a large police presence close to the oceanfront on Friday night, as the department urged local residents to “avoid the area at this time.”
No suspects are currently in custody in connection to any of the three incidents, but the chief said that “we’ll be doing our due diligence to find the people involved in this and hold them accountable.”
Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital confirmed that six patients suffering from gunshot wounds were being treated at its facility on Saturday morning.
The incidents came amid several high-profile shootings in the US over the last few weeks, following mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado over the last month.
Following those two incidents, President Joe Biden called for a ban on assault weapons, vowing to take “common-sense steps” to outlaw certain firearms.
Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, Mr Biden said: “I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps that will save the lives in the future, and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act.”
Specifics on the Virginia Beach shootings are currently minimal, but the police department is expected to hold a press conference on Saturday. Investigations are ongoing.