As you may have read or seen by now, Tyler Lynn-Gainous was shot on Weaver Drive late Friday afternoon and killed.
I haven't been one for blogging crime stories. (Then, I haven't seen a blog that regularly does.) However, this shooting is quite different for me. The victim died about 35 yards from my apartment's front door. One of my neighbors was taken into custody by the Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) as a "person of interest" for questioning. Therefore, I won't take the usual approach to such an event, but want to look at how such a tragedy impacts a neighborhood. With (hopefully) a murder trial in the months to come, this may become a series.
My home neighborhood for over 8 years now. Weaver is a cul de sac with two apartment complexes on it. Aden Park Apartments is the front of the two, providing about 10% of the units in its price range in Virginia Beach. Behind it is Ebbets Plaza, one of the few directly-subsidized apartment complexes in town. The neighborhood is poor, and about 90% minority. (I'm used to being the only White at a social gathering.)
The neighborhood was troubled in the 90s, but brought back through a concerted effort. VBPD came in and did community policing. (Among those who served here was current VBPD Deputy Chief John Bell.) A new company acquired Aden Park and upgraded it. The Community Manager chosen has been excellent: a firm but fair lady who will refuse to renew leases, and even evict, on those who are problem residents.
However, I've seen symptoms of backsliding over the past 10 months and have spoken to a couple of people about it. If there's a silver lining to this tragedy, maybe it will be the alarm that triggers a comprehensive process for improving our neighborhood.
For the purpose of the shooting, let me set the geography. Tyler Lynn-Gainous lived on Williams Court, the first cluster of apartments on the left side of Weaver Drive as you come in. The person of interest lived on Jasper Court, the first cluster of apartments on the right side of Weaver as you come in. The shooting was on Weaver, with the victim dying on the sidewalk on the Williams side of Weaver.
I worked Friday afternoon. With HRT's Route 20 messed up at rush hour, it was about 6:30 before I reached my home neighborhood. As I approached, I could see VBPD had Weaver blocked off. At first I thought we'd had a traffic accident, but then noticed how large an area was cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape. Something serious had happened. I told the cop at the entrance of Weaver that I was a resident, and he told me to walk through via the fields to the north. I had already figured that was probably the only way in, but had never walked it as long as I've lived here.
Entering Jasper, the crime scene tape came to within yards of my door. A black screen concealed the body on the sidewalk on the far side of Weaver. Small groups of residents stood along the edge of the crime scene trying to see what was going on in our neighborhood.
After dinner and a short Internet session, I came back outside. Some were still watching. I grabbed my favorite lawn chair and took a seat. The body was removed in a body bag about 8:30. Policewomen were combing the grass for evidence, and photos were being taken. VBPD pulled out shortly after 9 P.M.
Once the tape came down, I wanted to go look at where my neighbor had died. Before I could get out of my lawn chair, two women were already there. I went over and said a prayer. Despite the area being sprayed to clear blood at the end of the investigation, I could see it in a couple places. Within minutes, neighbors began erecting a makeshift memorial at the site of the death.
I noticed on Saturday morning that the memorial was growing. Already having planned a shopping run for Saturday earlier in the week, I bought a candle for the memorial while I was out. Shortly after getting home, I took it across the street. I blessed it in the manner of a priest, lit it, and placed it among the others.
Today was eerily quiet in our neighborhood, especially for a Saturday. I neither saw nor heard any children outside playing, despite the great weather. Parents may have been keeping them inside.
I've been checking the Internet throughout the day for updates on the case, but haven't seen anything yet.
I thought I should go relight all the candles at dusk. Taking out garbage in the early evening, I noticed someone else already had. They look beautiful in the dark tonight.