Richmond City and faith leaders speak out about reversing violent trend

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — 8News’ Mark Tenia spoke today with community leaders about reversing the surge in violence in Richmond’s Mosby Court.

“It really shows where we are in terms of where people just don’t respect authority, don’t respect police and are protecting themselves,” said Richmond City Council Member Andreas Addison.

Addison says the city has reached a tipping point. Two days after Virginia State Police Trooper Michael Walter’s tragic death, the community and city leaders are searching for answers. Addison says it’s a problem on multiple levels. The suspect Travis Ball had a lengthy criminal history and was back out on the streets illegally in possession of a gun.

“Shows that we have a lot of work to do. I think the amount of crime we’ve seen with guns as part of that shows that there is a lot of wide spread accessibility to guns that should be off the street,” Addison said.

Addison says part of the problem is having centralized poverty and public housing.

“It’s going to take a much bigger effort to really find a way to dismantle what we’ve created as this unfortunate circumstance where many innocent people are living in fear and terror every day,” Addison said.

He says it will take the community members to reverse the trend including church leaders.

“It has affected all of us, in some shape or form we all feel it,” said Tiffany Scott with the Cedar Street Memorial Baptist Church.

We spoke with Scott and Melissa Young from the church which is down the street from Mosby Court. The church has been working with police to make the area safer with prayer walks through neighborhoods.

“We have the opportunity to engage with the community and ask them questions and ask them what they need from us as the faith leaders,” Young said.

“The church is a hospital where people come to be healed so I think it’s very important for us to be there for the community as well as our law enforcement,” Scott said.

Using tips, police were able to arrest Ball in less than 12 hours.

Travis A. Ball is accused of shooting and killing Virginia State Police Special Agent Michael Walter. Image courtesy of Richmond City Jail/Richmond Sheriff’s Office

“I want to thank everyone for their support, the phone calls, especially those that gave tips,” Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham said on Saturday.

Addison says it’s an encouraging sign.

“Build that trust to know that your tip, you’re seeing something wrong, you’ve seen something bad, you know who did that and to be able to step up and share that. I think it shows a good piece of what can happen moving forward,” Addison said.

Young says it’s important not to stigmatize the community where these crimes are taking place.

“In every community, there are a few and you cannot demonize everyone for the negative behaviors of the few,” Young said.

Meanwhile, the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority say that the suspect was not a resident of Mosby Court. They sent us this statement.

“RRHA has confirmed in its tenant database that Travis Ball is not listed as a household member on any Mosby or RRHA lease of any of our public housing communities.   While this is not the first homicide to occur in Mosby and RRHA is deeply concerned about the continuing violence which has plagued Mosby Court this year, RRHA has discovered that most of these incidents have involved individuals who have been barred from our communities. The RRHA Board and staff is committed  to actively partnering with the RPD, our residents and community partners to address crime in our communities as we strive to provide safe, decent and affordable housing.”

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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