9/15/2022, 6 p.m.
Along with many in this city, we are upset that Tynashia Humphrey’s life was cut short.
Described by her family as a “sweet girl with a contagious smile,” the 15-year-old Armstrong High School freshman was killed Monday evening in a drive-by shooting as she walked to a nearby store with friends.
The Gilpin Court resident is a poster girl for the all-too-familiar violence that plagues portions of our city and so many other cities and wastes so much potential.
We have no explanation for why anyone would engage in such a terrible act.
Right now, young people have virtually unlimited opportunities for success. Jobs in every field imaginable – and most that do not require a college degree – are going begging.
Maybe it is how we handle the education of our young. In this city, half of our kids cannot proficiently read, write or add, subtract, multiply and divide.
Perhaps that leaves too many ready to take up arms to avoid dealing with their learning challenges.
But whatever is happening, we realize there are serious problems to be dealt with honestly. Clearly, the much-touted city gun buyback program had no impact. But there are probably other ideas that can be tried.
That is why it is so dismaying that our chief of police has been engaged in fantasizing about terrorist attacks.
Gerald M. Smith has real work to do. He now heads a department that is severely shorthanded as it tries to deal with the violence, to prevent it or find the culprit or culprits in the case of Tynashia and so many others.
He does not build confidence about the role the police can play when he presents fantasy as reality.
He simply needs to man up and tell people he made up the story that the two Guatemalans living and working here were plotting a massacre at the Fourth of July celebration at Dogwood Dell.
The investigative report filed in the case confirms that the Richmond Police Department received a tip about two people living in the country illegally, at least one of whom possessed weapons.
But the report contradicts virtually everything else the chief said at the July 6 press conference announcing the arrests of two potential terrorists. Instead, both men were working as electricians.
According to the report, Julio Alvarado-Dubon, 52, one of those arrested, welcomed the investigators from the city and even showed them the weapons belonging to his roommate, Rolman Balcarcel-Bavargas, 38, who was away in Charlottesville.
The report shows Mr. Alvarado-Dubon had no idea about any mass shooting or any interest in doing something that would cost him his construction job where he was making good money.
There was no FBI surveillance. Homeland Security did not have the two men on a watch list, although they were listed as having records of past deportation for overstaying visas.
Neither has any connection to a Mexican gang, neither had any criminal record, other than flouting immigration law.
What is known inside the department that everyone with any connection to the case is dumbfounded at the story Chief Smith told reporters July 6 about thwarting a terrorist plot.
The chief has pretty much publicly acknowledged that there was little truth to what he said and that he had no evidence that the celebration at Dogwood Dell was a target.
He has apologized for creating stress and anxiety in the public.
He needs to be more direct. He needs to come clean and seek public forgiveness for going off the rails, instead of allowing this to fester. He could do so during the community conversations in which he is now engaged.
We have too much real work that demands our attention.
Like making sure that another teenager like Tynashia Humphrey does not become a victim of gun violence.