Richmond organization suspends community events in response to escalating gun violence


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – The recent upsurge in gun violence throughout the city of Richmond is forcing a local organization to cancel all of its events in the community.

Ricky Johnson, the founder of the Ricky Johnson & Friends Foundation, told 8News that in his 16 years of running the foundation, he had never taken such drastic action, but felt it was necessary because he did not had never seen gun violence so serious.

“Richmond is not a community right now,” Johnson said. “The city is not safe.

Over the past month, there has been a spate of shootings in Richmond, leaving several dead and others injured.

Richmond residents share that they are tired of the violence and see a spike in crime as blue light continues to flood their neighborhoods.

The rise in gun violence continued last week in the city. On Friday September 11, Jeremiah Darden was shot dead on East Blake Lane. A triple shooting on Westover Hills Boulevard on Saturday left one victim in critical condition.

From left to right: Jeremiah Darden, Timothy McMorris, Jamarea Whitlow. All three have been shot dead in recent weeks.

And on Sunday afternoon, a 15-year-old boy was shot in the leg. That same day, Richmond Police raided Drewry Street in a double shootout that killed a teenager and injured two others.

“This generation has no respect for themselves or anyone else,” Johnson said. “They don’t care whether the sun rises or sets, whether you’re young or old. It is just senseless killings that are happening.

Johnson has dedicated his life to serving the townspeople, most notably known for his annual holiday toy drive, but he has also been affected by gun violence.

Johnson shared his story with 8News in June when his uncle was shot nine times inside a car in the Fulton neighborhood.

Johnson and volunteers load four buses, three times a week, with food, clothing, vitamins and PPE and deliver essentials to neighborhoods in need.

However, due to the recent outbreak of violence, Johnson has been forced to temporarily suspend services in the community until further notice.

“We don’t want people to gather in their neighborhood and something to happen and then I have this blood on my hands,” Johnson explained. “So I have to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and the community itself. “

According to online records from the Richmond Police Department, so far in 2020 there have been 42 homicides and 176 people have been shot dead.

Johnson calls on the townspeople to lower their arms so that he and his team can safely serve the community.

“Cease fire please,” exclaimed Johnson. “It’s a direct hit on the community. We ask our neighbors, our friends and our community to cease the fire so that we can resume our duties of blessing the people and go to where the people are. Not everyone has the money to take a bus, and not everyone has a car, give us the opportunity to go back to the neighborhood we belong to.

Those in need of essential supplies can always visit the foundation’s headquarters on East Belt Boulevard. Its doors are open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Johnson says he’s ready to return to communities if his team is escorted by security or police. If you would like to help, call the foundation at 804-774-0099.

Johnson also goes on to say he would like to get back on the road when there are no murders or shootings in the city for two consecutive weeks.

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