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Community gathers to remember recent shooting victims in Lynchburg
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Community gathers to remember recent shooting victims in Lynchburg

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Just a few hours before the city recorded its second homicide of the year, community members crowded around the parking lot at the intersection of 12th and Kemper streets in Lynchburg on Sunday evening to pay tribute to Samantha Robinson with a drive-up vigil. 

Robinson, 28, was driving down 12th Street on Thursday around 5 p.m. when a bullet entered her vehicle, striking her in the side according to the Lynchburg Police Department. Robinson was taken to Lynchburg General Hospital, where she died from her injuries, police said.

”This senseless act of violence took a young woman from her family and our community way too soon,” Lynchburg Police Chief Ryan Zuidema said in a news release following her death. "The women and men of the LPD are working tirelessly to bring the individual(s) responsible for Samantha's tragic death to justice."

On Sunday night three candles were lit to honor Robinson and two other Lynchburg community members lost to gun violence within the last two months. Thirty-one-year-old Ricky Johnson died following a shooting at the McCausland Ridge Apartments on Dec. 28, 2020, and on Dec. 7, 2020, Wendell Scott Morris died following a shooting at the James Crossing Apartments. 

Speakers at the event included multiple local pastors and religious leaders, city leaders, educators and law enforcement. The unifying message from all who spoke was to put an end to gun violence in Lynchburg, encouraging people to speak up if they have any information and to prosecute those who were involved in the shootings.  

One Community, One Voice partnered with the Lynchburg Police Department to host the drive-up candlelight vigil on Sunday evening. 

Hours later police responded to a malicious wounding call in the 700 block of Madison Street and found Frank Thomas Smith Jr., 66, with gunshot wounds, the Lynchburg Police Department said in a news release. Smith was taken to Lynchburg General Hospital, where he died from his injuries, police said.

Police continue to investigate Johnson's shooting.

On Dec. 15 LPD detectives arrested Demijah Kyjaun Spinner, 18, of Lynchburg, after he turned himself in and charged him second-degree manslaughter and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in connection with the shooting of Wendell Scott Morris. He also was served with an outstanding warrant for failure to appear. Police continue to search for James Alexander Hiett, 22, of Halifax County, who is wanted for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in connection with the shooting. 

Police ask anyone with information about the Jan. 21 shooting of Samantha Robinson to call Detective Davis at (434) 455-6166 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 798-5900. Enter a tip online at http://p3tips.com or use the P3 app on a mobile device.

Police ask anyone with information about the shooting of Frank Thomas Smith Jr. to contact Detective Dubie at (434) 455-6102 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 798-5900. Enter a tip online at http://p3tips.com or use the P3 app on a mobile device.

Photojournalist

Kendall Warner is a photojournalist raised in Northern Virginia and has been with The News & Advance since July 2020. She graduated from Western Kentucky University with a degree in photojournalism and minor in political science.

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