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Questions remain following Sunday shootout in Fry's Spring

Fry’s Springs residents and Charlottesville police have few answers to a lot of questions in the aftermath of a Sunday morning shootout at the Fry’s Spring Beach Club that left two men hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

Charlottesville Police officials estimated that that about 120 spent shells from shots fired were found in the parking lot of the club, along with one firearm. The shells were in five different calibers, including 27 rifle casings. That indicates five different weapons were used in the melee that occurred around 2:20 a.m. Sunday morning.

The two wounded men had non-life-threatening injuries and are in stable condition, according to police.

Much remains unclear following Sunday’s incident, including how many people were involved in the incident and whether charges will be filed as well as what those charges may be.

Representatives for the Charlottesville Police Department have remained tight-lipped, citing a desire to sort through a large amount of evidence.

Police scanner chatter on Sunday described abandoned vehicles riddled with bullet holes and blood and casings scattered around the Fry’s Spring Beach Club parking lot.

The shootout occurred after a fundraising event held at the beach club to support a nonprofit organization, Peace in the Streets, which promotes nonviolent means of solving disputes between individuals.

Peace in the Streets has been an active part of local efforts to curb gun violence in the Charlottesville community. Efforts were expanded last year following an increase in shots fired incidents and a string of murders in 2020.

Peace in the Streets received $50,000 in funding from the Charlottesville City Council last summer. According to the group’s website and social media, they currently offer a variety of assistance initiatives intended to feed the food insecure and assist in intervention programs to curb gun violence before it begins.

In a Facebook post Sunday, Peace in the Streets said the incident took place after their event had ended and thanked the Fry’s Spring community for the fundraiser.

“Although [Sunday morning] incidents took place after the fundraiser was packed up and well over, we heavily value the safety of our community and it saddens us to hear of individuals being injured by methods that we vowed to change in our community, that we have changed in our community,” organization officials said in the social media post.

“However, this incident also shines a light on the growing concerns of public safety issues in under-resourced neighborhoods and the importance of the work we do. We hope that this senseless act of violence doesn’t diffuse the trust from our community. We will always promote peace!” the organization wrote.

Some residents of Fry’s Spring expressed concern Monday that the incident is part of a broader trend in the community.

Diana Salmon, 73, a 47-year resident of Fry’s Spring who heard the shots, recalled incidents in the past two years in the community in which someone was shot.

“I feel like we’re living in a war zone after Sunday morning,” she said.

Salmon said she is concerned about the rapidity of the shots she heard and the finding of rifle shell casings.

“It really raises the alarm, if they were assault weapons,” she said. “We’ve risen to a new level.”

“There’s been an increase in the sound of gunfire,” said another resident who admitted she did not hear Sunday’s gunshots. “There’s been more thefts and more drug deals [in the community]. There’s a sense of a loss of control and of being unsafe. It’s not OK to have gunshots up and down your street, especially when we have kids playing in the driveway.”

Charlottesville Police Captain Tony Newberry of the city police said that the department could not say that gun violence in the community is trending upward based on one incident.

According to the department’s crime data website, violent crime in the Fry’s Spring area, particularly shots fired incidents, are not showing an increase. In the past six months, there have no reports of shots fired in the area and fewer than 10 simple assaults reported.

The investigation into Sunday’s incident is ongoing and those with information are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 434-977-4000.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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