Tuesday, February 20, 2024

A community torn by violence: Stories from southeast Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS — It’s no secret there is crime in the southeast community of Newport News.

But just how bad is it?

Has the crime gotten better in Newport News?

Well, it depends on who you ask.

Taneya Simpson, 28, lives in Newport Harbour Apartments off Marshall Avenue with her three boys. She is concerned about the crime in her neighborhood — she’s particularly concerned when her 10-year son takes out the trash.

Last year, an 11-year-old boy was shot while taking out the trash, just a couple blocks away.

“I hear a lot of shootings,” she said.

While Simpson said her neighborhood isn’t as bad as Ridley Circle, she still feels crime is bad and the police could do more.

“I think if they was patrolling on foot more instead of riding around pulling people over that would do more because they would have them out here less —they wouldn’t be out here shooting so much because there would be more cops out here,” she said. “You never see them on foot, ever.”

A few minutes by car, just down the street from An Achievable Dream Academy, is a neighborhood with one of the highest crime rates in the city: Ridley Circle, a section 8 housing complex. At a news conference Jan. 15, Police Chief Steve Drew said he plans to focus police efforts in three particular neighborhoods: Marshall Courts, Courthouse Green and Ridley Circle.

According to a Trulia map, the southeast community is saturated with crime such as aggravated assault, drug offenses and vandalism.

Drew said he wants to do more community policing and get the community more involved.

“The city only wins if we all work together,” he said.

While reporting on this story, a WYDaily reporter was advised by residents to be careful when walking around Ridley Circle.

RELATED STORY: NN police chief talks 2018 crime stats, community initiatives and more

Sheila Booth, 58, who lives in Ridley Circle with her dog, sticks a chair under her front door and prays to God nobody will come in hurt her.

“It’s just a lot of crime in this area, period,” Booth said. “You can hear gunshots here from anywhere from early in the morning till three, four, five o’clock in the morning.”

She said she feels crime is about the same or worse and she honestly can’t tell the difference with the new police chief.

Booth said police always come after the fact and they don’t follow up unless it’s a homicide to knock on doors asking for information.

Yolanda Monroe, 32, has lived in Ridley Circle for about five years and said if police do come into the neighborhood, they sit in their cars for a bit, for a minute or an hour or so, or they just drive by.

Monroe said she mostly stays to herself and if she’s not at work, she stays inside the house.

Lawrence Brooks, 40 is a taxi driver who lives in Ridley Circle with his two teenage boys. And even though he has lived there for nine months, crime, he said, has gotten worse.

“There was a murder about a month ago not even 50 feet from my door,” he said, adding his two teenage boys don’t play outside. “I don’t drive past Mercury after dark.”

Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsiglianohttp://wydaily.com
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to julia@localvoicemedia.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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