Police: Victim of Grove Street shooting was targeted by suspect
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Charlottesville Police Department says that the shooting on Grove Street that took the life of an anti-gun group member on Jan. 28 was targeted.
After nine days, city police now say the suspect, 38-year-old Tadashi Demetrius Keyes, not only knew the victim, 36-year-old Eldridge Vandrew Smith, but Keyes targeted Smith.
Smith was a member of the BUCK Squad, a crime and gun violence prevention organization in Charlottesville.
According to the BUCK Squad, Charlottesville has seen a rise in gun violence since 2019.
On Friday, Bryan Page, the assistant director of the organization, says that the tragic killing of one of their members just goes to show the time we're living in.
In an interview on Monday, CPD Chief Michael Kochis said that just because they arrested the suspect, does not mean that this case is over. He said that Keyes and Smith knew each other and that this homicide was not random, but it has nothing to do with Smith being a member of the BUCK Squad.
"So, I can't speak to motive at this point. Mr. Smith was targeted but we do not believe it was because he was a member of the BUCK Squad. A lot of the shootings that we have seen do seem to be with folks that that are known to each other as opposed to just random shooters,” Kochis said.
According to statistics by crimegrade.org, Charlottesville is in the 41st percentile when it comes to violent crimes compared to other cities across the United States, which means that 59 percent of other cities are safer.
But Kochis wants to remind the public that the city is safe. He says this type of shooting, in which the victim and killer know one another, happens frequently across the country, not just in Charlottesville.
"What we're seeing here in Charlottesville like I said is not unique. Now we have seen a rise in gun crime and you know we're going to take steps to address that the first thing we have to do is look at the data tells us. What's going on, why is it happening, where are the guns coming from so we're in the process of doing just that,” Kochis said.
He emphasized that his department worked around the clock to find the suspect in Smith's shooting. CPD also received help from the Commonwealth Attorney's Office and from multiple tips from the community. Kochis says that it’s important for CPD to seek justice for the family of Smith and to keep things like this from happening in the future.
When asked about how he will ease the community's frustration with not knowing the details behind crimes that happen in their neighborhoods, Kochis said that he is currently working on having his watch commanders on each shift have the ability to control their social media platforms. This would allow them to update the public night or day, in the hope of communicating regularly with citizens and having an outlet to release information quickly.