Shooting spree nets multiple charges

Published 11:24 am Wednesday, December 27, 2017

No one injured in Smithfield Heights

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Three men were arrested last week in connection with a nearly high noon shoot-out in the Smithfield Heights neighborhood.

One neighbor said she saw two men running down the street in front of her house shooting and chasing another person — one firing from a gun in each hand.

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There were no reports of injuries and three 9mm handguns were recovered, according to Lt. James Pope with the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office.

There were reports of bullets causing damage to property, Pope said.{mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Arrested were three local men, John Lee Butler III of 16190 Smithfield Heights Drive, Andre Deangelo Towns of 11341 Burwell’s Bay Road and James Howard Wrenn of the 14000 block of Melissa Drive.

Butler, 23, is facing multiple felony and misdemeanor changes, including attempted murder in the second degree, maliciously shooting at an occupied vehicle, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, participation in a street gang, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and reckless handling of a firearm.

Butler was also charged with robbery and reckless handling of a firearm for an event that occurred the night before in the Red Oaks mobile home park in Smithfield.

Towns, 32, is charged with multiple counts of attempted second degree murder and use of a firearm while committing a felony, as well as reckless handling of a firearm, maliciously shooting at an occupied building and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Towns was convicted in 2010 for selling cocaine and drug possession in Isle of Wight County Circuit Court.

Wrenn, 25, was charged with attempted second degree murder, maliciously shooting at an occupied building and an occupied vehicle, reckless handling of a firearm, use of a firearm while committing a felony and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

One of the suspects is thought to have gang affiliates in Newport News and Hampton, said Pope.

The suspects are being held without bond in the Western Tidewater Regional Jail.

Shots were fired during the Dec 19 incident at Red Oaks where three mobile homes were struck, as well as a car. An hour prior, gunfire was also reported in Smithfield Heights at 7:30 p.m., according to Pope.

The events appear to be related and the investigation is ongoing, Pope said, adding that a motive for the noon day shooting is also unknown at this time.

Daquon Naveo Lyons, 22, was charged with selling marijuana Dec. 20 as deputies investigated the shooting, but there is no indication that he was involved in the gunfire, Pope said.

Luvenia and Thomas Winnegan live near the scene of the shooting, and have for 20 years

“It’s getting worse,” said Luvenia of the gunfire that she said was unheard of when she was growing up in the neighborhood.

Luvenia feels fortunate, if one could call it that, that she was shopping in Smithfield and her grandson was safely at his mother’s house when the shooting took place.

If not, they could have been outside in the front yard working on their Christmas display.

The Winnegans are frustrated, since it appears as if non-neighborhood residents are behind the gunfire.

Thomas is concerned that individuals wildly shooting guns will result in someone’s death and Luvenia wants the criminal element to leave.

“If you don’t live here, don’t bring it in the neighborhood,” she said.

Two of the suspects have addresses in the neighborhood.

Multiple agencies assisted with the response and investigation, including the Smithfield Police, Newport News Police, Virginia State Police and the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office.  {/mprestriction}