Local ministers went to the intersection of Arnett Boulevard and Glendale Avenue to pray after two young adults were killed Thursday evening.
Breia Martonia Edmunds, 21, and Damarcus Daran Whitehead, 20, were pronounced dead at the scene Thursday evening.
This marks the fourth deadly gunfire crime this week in the Dan River Region and brings Danville’s homicide count to seven this year. In 2016, the city had a record-breaking 16 homicides.
Fenqwan Tayshon Payne, 23, was fatally shot Wednesday evening at a Bradley Road residence.
On Sunday morning, 17-year-old Tion Burton, of Danville, was killed in a shooting at Axton Lodge, The Pines. Five law enforcement agencies are still investigating that homicide. Burton had graduated from George Washington High School a week prior.
More than 30 people went to the J.T.I. Fountain in the River District on Friday evening to pray publicly for Danville, the victims, the families and the youth.
The Rev. Vastish M. Cooper and members of S.T.A.V. (Standing Together Against Violence), the Rev. Avon Keen and community leaders Reginald Jeffries, David Wilson and more prayed and spoke positively about Danville for 30 minutes.
Youth held up signs that said “Pray for our city Danville VA,” “Help us make our city safe,” and “put the guns down.”
The group then left the fountain to go to Arnett Boulevard to pray at the scene of Thursday evening’s double homicide.
At 11:47 p.m. Thursday, Danville police responded to the intersection of Arnett Boulevard and Glendale Avenue for a report of a vehicle crash.
Upon arrival, officers found a vehicle on a curb with two people inside with fatal gunshot injuries to both, according to a news release.
Danville Police Department Chief Philip Broadfoot said Friday morning at a news conference that it is “way too early” in the investigation to see if Thursday’s homicide is connected to any other killings from this month.
Haywood Horace “Biscuit” Carter, 68, and Fenqwon Tayshon Payne, 23, were killed earlier this month in Danville.
“Our community has to make a decision on what they will tolerate,” Broadfoot said, adding that
Broadfoot mentioned that he and other city officials are working on a “comprehensive gang reduction program” beginning later this month.
Three homicides in two days “maxes out our resources,” Broadfoot continued. “It is concerning when we have any homicide.”
“It takes our community” to stop the youth, who are killing other youth, Broadfoot said, adding he has confidence the community will step up.
Broadfoot said a motive for the killings is still being investigated.
“We cannot allow the violence, shootings and murders to continue,” said Danville city councilman Larry Campbell Jr.
“This is not the city of Danville I know,” Campbell said, adding that the violence is hurting all of Danville.
“This affects our economic growth,” Campbell said. “We have industry leaders looking to come” to the city but may be hesitant to invest.
“It’s not healthy, not healthy at all,” Campbell said.
The Rev. Avon Keen was one of many faith leaders who went to the scene as Thursday evening turned in Friday morning to pray and “comfort the young people.”
Keen, a member of the Danville Ministers Alliance, said he is “very concerned” about the city.
“A lot of the killing has been young African-Americans” either as victims or as shooters, Keen said.
On Friday evening at the fountain, Keen was on the microphone and asked the crowd “Let’s look at each other and say ‘I love you.’”