DANVILLE, Va. – On Monday afternoon, dozens gathered outside of the Danville Courthouse to recognize National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
“I’m not going to cry because if I do I can’t stop,” Dennis Brown said.
Five years ago, Brown found his 18-year-old son, Demetrius, murdered in front of his home. He had just graduated from Danville High School and was studying to become a doctor.
“God is still good. Demetrius was my pride and joy,” he said. “If I could bring him back I would, but I can’t bring him back. I must learn to accept what I cannot understand.”
Brown and others shared stories about the loved ones they have lost and the challenges they continue to face moving forward.
That includes Elijah Cunningham, who lost his brother, Keenan, the same way in 2019.
“There’s a lot of victims out here,” he said. “That’s a lot of people. It’s sad. I hate that I’m a part of it, but hey, ain’t nothing I can do about it but keep pushing.”
Life goes on, but Cunningham said he doesn’t want his brother to be forgotten. That is something Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares saw a lot of during his time as a prosecutor.
“Loved ones have this incredible fear that their loved one is going to be forgotten,” Miyares said. “That everyone else moves on with their life, but this hole stays with them.”
Danville police said in the past decade, 87 people were murdered. In that same time, they were called for nearly 5,000 domestic incidents.
“Crime affects everybody, we all know that,” Capt. of Investigations David Whitley said. “We certainly know that the city of Danville has had its share of challenges through the years.”
Police are rolling out two new initiatives to help victims of violent crime. The first is a Homicide Support Group, which helps loved ones heal.
The second is called, B.R.A.V.E. “Bringing Resources After Violence,” is a scorecard that will help investigators take a deeper look at domestic crimes and how much help victims need.
“Our homicides rates have gone down. Our violent rates are at 35-year crime lows,” Whitley said. “We have certainly turned a corner in this city with the help of our community.”
Police said while crime is down, one life is still too many. They add there are no victimless crimes and that they hope these programs will help loved ones left behind.