Charlottesville’s police chief plans to host a community forum on Monday to discuss the recent spate of gun violence in the city.
Police Chief Michael Kochis has invited Charlottesville residents to Old Trinity Church on 10th Street for the town hall-style event.
“We can’t prevent crime alone,” Kochis told The Daily Progress on Friday.
Shootings have taken 11 lives and injured at least 21 people in the city of Charlottesville and surrounding Albemarle County since September, according to a Daily Progress tally. In Charlottesville alone there have three homicides since the start of the year, according to city police.
This time last year there had been two reported killings within the city limits.
Two of this year’s three killings in the city have occurred in broad daylight: one in Belmont on Jan. 8, which took the life of Osvaldo Lopez-Hernandez of Texas, and the other in the city’s 10th & Page neighborhood last Wednesday, which took the life of 20-year-old Gordonsville resident Nicklous Pendleton.
The third homicide in the city took the life of 36-year-old Charlottesville resident Eldridge “Skeeta” Smith on the night of Jan. 28. Smith was a member of the city’s B.U.C.K. Squad, a group dedicated to removing gun violence from Charlottesville’s streets.
Arrests have been made in two of the three shootings. The shooter in Wednesday’s shooting remains at large.
Kochis has said police believe that all three were targeted murders.
“The last three homicides we’ve had this year all involved people who were acquainted with each other or knew each other,” Kochis said, before acknowledging that fact doesn’t make it any easier for Charlottesville residents to feel safe in their community.
Since Wednesday’s shooting, Kochis said he has increased patrols in three hot spots that have seen increased gun violence: 10th & Page, parts of Charlottesville “a little further away from 10th & Page” and the Corner near the University of Virginia.
Those neighborhoods can expect there to be an increase of officers on foot and bicycle and in vehicles. There will also be plainclothes officers in those areas speaking with members of the community, he said.
“I’ve been walking through the communities and speaking with folks – to really listen to those folks who live in those communities who are most affected by gun crime,” Kochis said. “And the message that I have heard is very clear. They want police in their communities. They want us to be the police again.”
Monday’s community forum at Old Trinity Church is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Old Trinity Church sits at 415 10th St., a third of a mile away from where Pendleton was shot and killed on Wednesday.
“City residents are encouraged to attend and engage in conversations designed to spark change within our communities,” the Charlottesville Police Department said in a tweet announcing the event.
Anyone with information regarding any of the recent shootings in the Charlottesville area is urged to call the Crime Stoppers tip line at (434) 977-4000.
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