At least three women are dead and two others are wounded after what police believe to be a domestic mass shooting Wednesday at a housing development in Norfolk, Virginia.
The gunman shot one woman outside around 6 p.m. during an apparent domestic incident, according to Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone. Boone told local news station WTKR that the suspect fled after shooting the first woman.
When four other women tried to render aid to the victim, the gunman came back and shot them, too, Boone said.
Both the first shooting victim and two others who tried to help her died. The two other women who were wounded were taken to a local hospital, officials said.
Detra R. Brown, 42, of Suffolk, Nicole Lovewine, 45, of Norfolk, and Sara E. Costine, 44, of Lithonia, Georgia, were killed, the Norfolk Police Department said Thursday. The 39-year-old woman and a 19-year-old woman who were transported to the hospital were not identified. The police department said both were expected to recover and had non-life threatening injuries.
The Norfolk Police Department announced in a Tweet that the suspect had been taken into custody Wednesday night. He was identified Thursday as Ziontay B. R. Palmer, 19, of Virginia Beach. The chief called the suspect a “coward.”
Palmer is charged with three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of malicious wounding, and five counts of use of a firearm, and is being held without bond, according to police.
Each year, domestic violence kills almost 1,300 people across the U.S., according to the Emory University School of Medicine.
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Most mass shootings are related to domestic violence, according to a 2021 study published in the Journal of Injury Epidemiology. The authors found that 59.1% of mass shootings between 2014 and 2019 were related to domestic violence, and in 68.2% of mass shootings, the perpetrator either killed at least one partner or family member or had a history of domestic violence.
2020 saw both a surge in murders and domestic violence as households sheltered in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. At least 878 victims died at the hands of their spouse or romantic partner last year, according to the FBI.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the U.S. have been victims of violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, which it defines as rape, physical violence or stalking. More than ten million Americans experience domestic violence every year, the nonprofit National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates.
Nearly 9 out of 10 incidents of family violence happens in the home of the victim or the home of a friend, relative or neighbor, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The majority of spouse violence occurs in the victim’s home.
At a press conference Thursday, Boone decried gun violence in communities of color and said in the last 30 years in Norfolk there have been over 1,000 homicides.
“I am so sick and tired of saying the same old, same old,” he said.