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It had been a gang hit, and the year-old mother was supposed to die early in the morning on April 24,prosecutors said. A garbage collector found the toddler wandering alone about an hour before dawn in West Ghent. Somehow, Arrington lived. She spent weeks in the hospital in a coma, lost her eye, and is deaf in her right ear. When she testified at a December court hearing, eight months after the attack, she still had a slew of scheduled surgeries and was taking dozens of pills every day.
When she testified in court, she removed her prosthetic eye to punctuate the pain she was living with. She was pistol-whipped. Those s have climbed even more this year. So far, both homicides and shootings are higher than they were at the same point in Plus, Norfolk police for years have been unwilling or reluctant to publicly talk about gangs in the city.
Behind the crime statistics are people. Like Arrington and her toddler son. Violence radiates, its tragedy rippling out from victims to their family and friends to the community as a whole — pressing relatives into service as caregivers, forcing children into foster care and psychologically scarring everyone.
When she finally woke up from her coma, she started talking to police. She would tell detectives her story over the course of many days.
Arrington told the detectives she was working two jobs: at a BP gas station and at Tidewater Community College. Still, she and her son were homeless. Like Arrington, Webb and her friends seemed like they were down on their luck but surviving by taking care of each other. They gave me a place to stay. I was homeless.
The Outlaw Bloods are a predominantly Black gang with roots stretching back decades to the original formation of the Bloods in South Los Angeles. Eventually, Arrington learned they were a Bloods gang. Three or four days before she was attacked, they asked her to.
Arrington hesitated. It is a crucible — people start as recruits and emerge as members. They said to fight back. Arrington, by her ownwas not a good gang member. Over the next couple days, her new comrades tried to teach her secret handshakes, Bloods lore and traditions. Usually it was just the women hitting her, but sometimes the men ed in too.
Arrington estimated she got five or six DPs in the first three or four days she was a gang member. What ended in a bloody maiming and near death was supposed to be a pizza-and-movie night. When she arrived around 7 p. When she failed, they beat her. The attack intensified when others ed in, with all 10 participating at some point.
Still, this was a relatively routine beating, the kind she had endured several times in days for not being a fast enough learner. Things got worse when Arrington was supposedly rude to a higher-ranking gang member. Winnegan beat her, Arrington said. When he left, all the women in the gang took over the attack. After that, Arrington came back into the living room and asked Winnegan if she could talk to him out on the balcony.
The two went back inside. Arrington thought Winnegan was about to give her the green light to leave the gang. Instead, he relayed the news to everyone else: Arrington wanted out. Winnegan punched her in the face, she said.
They made their case: Arrington was shaking in fear; she might tell people about the gang. Rumors swirled around the group about her being a spy for another Bloods set.
Eventually, a decision was made: Arrington knew too much and had been beaten too badly. The gang would have to kill her. Then, while her son watched, he beat her. During the attack, Winnegan punched and pistol-whipped Arrington in the face and choked her. Pinned to the kitchen floor, she kicked her legs and banged them on the floor to alert people in the downstairs apartment.
To stop her, two gang members held them down. Then, while Winnegan was choking Arrington with one hand, he poured bleach down her throat with the other. She swallowed some. Meanwhile, other gang members were covering their tracks.
At some point during the trip, Winnegan let go but Flash held on as Arrington begged for freedom. Instead, he hit her. Once they got to the car, Flash let go, she testified in court. She had no escape plan or scheme about what to do next. Holing up was an act of desperation. Several of them surrounded the car.
At least six of them had guns. Watkins broke through the Saran wrap covering her rear windshield. Her son started screaming. Again, Arrington tried to get the attention of anyone who might help, this time by honking the car horn. The last time she remembers seeing her son, he was in the backseat as gang members with guns surrounded them. Some of the gang members dragged her from the car and beat her some more while firing off their guns. Then two of the men stuffed her in a trunk and drove her six blocks away.
One of them shot her in the face and put her in the front seat of the Mercedes. But what to do about her son? They decided not to kill the boy, not because it would be cruel, but because doing so would trigger a massive police response, Beye said. Hours later, a I want a woman in Arrington Virginia collector found the 2-year-old wandering by himself near Redgate and Claremont avenues, a block away from the West Ghent Greek restaurant Orapax.
It was pouring rain. The garbage collector called for help. When he got there, he found a mystery: a toddler soaked from the rain and discovered alone in the early morning. The officer asked the little boy some questions: What was his name? Who were his parents? How did he end up on the street alone in the early morning in the middle of a storm? Nearly everything he said was unintelligible to the officer, except one thing. The 2-year-old was given to Child Protective Services, and he was in foster care three months later in July More than seven hours after the boy was found, police got another call.
An officer went to the block of Glendale Avenue, a foot strip of road that dead ends in a solid wall of vegetation. One of the rear windows was shattered. A forensics team later found a 9 mm shell casing inside the Mercedes, on the floor of the front passenger seat. Two more were scattered on the ground just outside the passenger side — one next to the front tire and another near the front door.
As the officer drew closer, he could see the woman more clearly. Her eyes were swollen shut. Blood poured out of a bullet hole in her right ear. Bruises covered her body. Paramedics later found stab wounds behind her head and down her back.
She definitely tried to answer me, but she was so — her body was so bruised and beaten that she could just make noise. Inthen-Police Chief Bruce Marquis was more open about the existence of gangs in the city. In fact, he teamed up with other city leaders to put out a video about it. At the time, Marquis said police believed there were 67 gangs and 1, to 2, gang members operating in Norfolk.
About 25 of those gangs were routinely involved in crime. You guys are the people the gang people want. Since then, Boone has become chief, and he has spoken little about gangs. Mentioning them in the media, he said, gives them the attention they crave. But a longtime officer contradicted his former boss. The officer spoke on the condition of anonymity because the department strictly controls when the rank-and-file can talk to media.
Since Octoberthe department has sent out nearly 1, tweets, informing the public about everything from murders to fatal car crashes to myriad scams. Ina gang war caused several murders, which, in part, made it the deadliest in a decade. The result was a year-old grandmother gunned down in her driveway while taking out the trash in front of her Norfolk home. A few years later, on Valentine's Daya yearslong rivalry between Norfolk and Portsmouth gangs I want a woman in Arrington Virginia into the open when they ran into each other at MacArthur Center mall. The result was a brawl that escalated into gunfire, forcing the mall into a lockdown and throwing downtown Norfolk into chaos.
The reasons Arrington ed the Outlaw Bloods are common, said gang expert and d mental health counselor Lisa Taylor-Austin. People who are alone need help, protection and the safety net that comes from being a part of a tight-knit group. So a single mother living out of her car with her 2-year-old to care for might turn to gang life, not because of the violence and crime that comes with it, but in spite of it, Taylor-Austin said.
The risk of living alone on the street is too great. Fourteen months after she was shot in the head, Arrington is out of the hospital and, to a degree, has healed. But not completely. That will never happen. In December, Arrington testified that she still had to have at least six surgeries and was taking 28 pills a day. The horrors Arrington endured will be hard to forget. The cases against the people accused of trying to murder her are still working their way through the Norfolk court system, and they could stretch on for years, which means she will remain in limbo for the foreseeable future, never quite able to close the door on what happened.
That means she may need to testify at their trials and relive the day her supposed family allegedly punched, kicked and pistol-whipped her, the day they poured bleach down her throat, the day they shot her in the head and left her to die.
She survived. But living on means living with the physical and emotional wounds of what happened, according to prosecutors:. That those she turned to for help and safety and camaraderie in her time of need provided none of those things.
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