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Mother of slain Lynchburg woman urges suspects to come forward
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Mother of slain Lynchburg woman urges suspects to come forward

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The mother of a 28-year-old Lynchburg woman killed by an apparent stray bullet last month issued an emotional appeal Tuesday for the perpetrators behind her daughter’s death to turn themselves in to authorities.

Samantha Robinson was fatally wounded on the afternoon of Jan. 21 as she was driving down 12th Street and a bullet entered her vehicle, striking her in the side, police have said.

Lynchburg police have named three individuals wanted for questioning in connection to the shooting, but as of Tuesday two of those men have not been located.

“The only thing I want is justice for my daughter and my grandson,” Robinson’s mother, Jill Rice, said as she fought back tears at a news conference held outside the Lynchburg Police Department. “I don’t hate nobody because I wasn’t raised like that. Just turn yourself in.”

Police currently are searching for Dia Montae Cedrik Taylor, 19, and Leondre Tymere Strange, 19, in connection to the shooting. A third man, Najiee J’hode Turner, 20, previously had been sought for questioning, according to police. As of Tuesday, none of the three men face charges in connection with the shooting.

Police have described Robinson as an innocent bystander who was not involved in the events that led to her death. Investigators are still probing the cause of the shooting but police say they have been frustrated by a lack of community assistance in the case.

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At Tuesday’s news conference, Police Chief Ryan Zuidema urged residents with any knowledge of Robinson’s death to speak with investigators or to share information anonymously with Crime Stoppers. He described the shooting as a “senseless act of violence” that will require community assistance to solve.

“This could have been you, a neighbor or one of your loved ones,” Zuidema said. “All Samantha was guilty of was driving down the road, nothing more, nothing less. This type of behavior is absolutely unacceptable in our community.”

Robinson’s death marked the first homicide of the year in Lynchburg. A vigil celebrating her life was held last week as police searched for leads in the case.

Zuidema said police are now working to determine if the shooting is related to a recent string of violent crimes in the same area Robinson was killed. In the past three months, police have responded to numerous shootings in the blocks between 5th and 12th streets. Zuidema said police also are investigating any gang-related ties to the shooting.

Police also are seeking two teenagers believed to have witnessed the shooting, according to Zuidema. Both reside in Lynchburg but police have so far been unable to locate the two teens.

In her remarks, Rice remembered Robinson as a loving person with an unforgettable smile. She described the immense grief of losing her daughter at such a young age and the desire to see the people responsible for the shooting brought to justice.

“If anybody knows anything, please come forward for my baby and my grandson and my family,” she said.

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