Richmond VA Oct 15 2016 Authorities are investigating a shooting this morning outside a dollar store in South Richmond — the third slaying this week in the city.
Today's discovery of a dead man slumped behind the wheel of a car outside a Dollar General brings to 50 the number of killings reported so far this year by the Richmond police.
That is nine more homicides than the 41 recorded by city police for all of 2015.
This morning, a passerby noticed a man slumped in the front seat of a Mercedes-Benz parked in front of Dollar General in the 3900 block of Walmsley Boulevard and went to check on him, according to police spokesman Gene Lepley. The man had apparent gunshot wounds.
Officers were summoned to the scene at 8:05 a.m. and arrived about three minutes later, Lepley said.
The man was pronounced dead at 8:15 a.m., and investigators are treating the case as a homicide. Officials have not yet released the identity of the man. Several neighbors and a former employee said the car belonged to the store manager, who they described as a kind man who kept to himself.
Police believe multiple gunshots were fired because the car was struck multiple times and several windows were shattered, but it was not immediately clear how many times the man was struck. The car, a Mercedes-Benz sedan with a rear Florida plate, was parked in a handicapped space directly in front of the store's entrance.
Lepley said the shooting occurred sometime this morning and that detectives were canvassing the area in search of more information. Neighbors reported hearing gunshots around 6:30 a.m.
The store, which typically doesn't open until 8 a.m., was never opened this morning, although the lights are on inside. A spokeswoman for Dollar General said the store would remain closed today while police continued their investigation.
Investigators also hope to obtain surveillance images that could shed light on how the killing unfolded, Lepley said.
Today's killing occurred two days after a man was shot to death on a sidewalk in the Fulton neighborhood Wednesday night. The man, Marc E. Johnson, 48, was found about 11 p.m. in the 5300 block of Blue Ridge Avenue after gunfire was reported in the area.
And on Sunday, a 57-year-old woman was fatally struck by what authorities believe was random gunfire in the Gilpin Court public housing community. The victim, Carmella D. Winston, of Henrico County, was struck by a bullet that shattered the windshield of a car she was riding in with her mother and three children.
In the frenzy of the moment, Winston's 8-year-old nephew stayed calm. He shielded his 6-year-old sister and 4-year-old cousin from the falling glass while coaching his hysterical grandmother, who was driving the car, to pull around the corner to safety.
Deputy Chief Eric English, acting chief while Chief Alfred Durham is traveling, said the rising homicide numbers are worrying. The city is on track to reach it's highest number of killings since 2007, when 55 were reported.
"There's no question that we're at a rise," English said at the scene of Friday's homicide. "There's a great deal of concern about the amount of violent crime in our city. There are too many guns out there. We need as many eyes and ears as we can get out there."
With the rise in killings, English said, each of the department's 12 patrol sectors are targeting specific high-crime areas.
"But this area right here is not one that would have been targeted," English said of the south side neighborhood where a man was killed Friday.
Anyone with information on any of the killings is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.