Eldridge Vandrew Smith, who was found dead in his car in Charlottesville on Saturday night – his body riddled with bullets – was a member of a group dedicated to removing gun violence from the city’s streets.
He also likely knew his killer, police say.
“We do not believe this to be random,” Charlottesville Police Chief Michael Kochis told reporters with NBC29 on Monday. “We believe that the person may have been known to Mr. Smith.”
Kochis did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Progress on Tuesday.
During his Monday interview, however, he did reiterate the department’s request for the public’s assistance solving the crime that claimed Smith’s life.
“We believe somebody knows what happened,” Kochis said. “We don’t have a specific suspect, but detectives are still working on this, and they are making some progress.”
In the meantime, those who knew Smith were grieving on Tuesday.
The 36-year-old city resident was known to his friends as Skeeta. And, in an ironic tragedy, he was a member of the city’s B.U.C.K. Squad, a group dedicated to keeping gun violence off Charlottesville’s streets.
“It is with heavy hearts that we must say RIP to one of our own Squad members,” the B.U.C.K. Squad posted on Instagram on Tuesday.
According to that post, Smith was on his way to work when he was killed.
Police found Smith dead inside an SUV near Fifeville Park just before 10 p.m. on Saturday night. He had suffered multiple gunshot wounds and there were several shell casings found nearby, according to police.
“This incident only amplifies the importance of our work and our mission,” the B.U.C.K. Squad said on Instagram. “We will continue to try our best to prevent these occurrences in honor of those whose lives have been lost.”
The B.U.C.K. Squad did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Progress on Tuesday.
Charlottesville police are encouraging anyone with any information on Smith’s death to contact the Crime Stoppers tip line at (434) 977-4000.
Smith’s slaying was the third shooting in less than a week in Charlottesville. A juvenile male and adult woman were shot in separate incidents closer to downtown late in the night of Jan. 23. Since September, nine people have been killed and 17 injured by gunfire in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
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