IW law enforcement seeks to hit the brakes on social media-driven ‘car clubs’

Published 3:18 pm Friday, November 3, 2023

Isle of Wight County is the latest Hampton Roads locality to contend with so-called “car clubs,” a new trend in illegal street racing where large groups of motorists meet up to drive against the flow of traffic, do donuts and perform other stunts in parking lots and intersections in hopes of attracting social media attention.

The county Sheriff’s Office says its deputies have had three encounters with these types of groups, most recently on Oct. 15 when nearly 200 vehicles drove across the James River Bridge to the Carrollton Food Lion. When law enforcement responded, a participant in the melee was caught on a deputy’s body camera jumping on the hood of a patrol car.

“They organize most often through social media posts,” said Deputy Alecia Paul, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office. “Their main goal has been to gather in large groups and cause general mayhem. They participate in reckless and lawless acts, which are extremely dangerous to themselves and bystanders.”

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Deputies were able to intercept and disperse much of the Oct. 15 crowd, though two vehicles fled the scene. One of the two fleeing drivers turned into the Taco Bell parking lot on Benns Church Boulevard “at a high rate of speed” and “attempted to further elude deputies by turning off their lights,” Paul said. “As a result, the vehicle crashed, and two subjects were apprehended.”

According to Paul, the Sheriff’s Office impounded two cars, confiscated multiple firearms and arrested three people – Logan Shuster, Xzavier Major and Khalil Carter – in connection with the Oct. 15 incident.

Paul said the Sheriff’s Office will be pursuing misdemeanor charges of reckless driving, eluding police, fleeing law enforcement, aiding and abetting racing, and purchase or possession of alcohol by someone under age 21. Deputies also plan to pursue hit-and-run and possession of methamphetamine and firearm charges – both felonies.

The Sheriff’s Office has not released details as to the age, place of residence or specific charges faced by each of the three suspects. Paul said the Sheriff’s Office also plans to pursue charges against a fourth person who has yet to be arrested.

Regional CBS affiliate WTKR has reported other “car club” incidents in Hampton Roads larger localities, among them Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

“This has become quite a problem in the Hampton Roads area,” Paul said.

Additional incidents in Isle of Wight include one in which the sheriff’s office aided the Smithfield Police Department, and another in the southern tip of the county at the abandoned Airway shopping center near Franklin, where over 100 cars converged.