5 weeks after Oceanfront shootings, victim’s family still doesn’t have answers

Alissa Skelton, The Virginian-Pilot
·2 min read

The family of a 28-year-old woman who was shot and killed at the Oceanfront last month suspects police gunfire may have been responsible for her death.

Deshayla Harris’ family members didn’t offer evidence to support their theory in a midday news conference Friday near where she was killed March 26.

In a statement Friday night, the Virginia Beach Police Department said the evidence so far — including eyewitness accounts and surveillance video — points to Harris being shot by gunfire between “groups of individuals,” not one of their officers.

Eight others were wounded in a gunfight between two groups around the same time near 20th Street and Atlantic Avenue.

The department also said evidence indicates Harris died “several minutes” before the police shooting that killed Lynch. Another key piece of evidence, according to the police statement: The bullet recovered from Harris was not the same type of ammunition issued to Virginia Beach police officers.

Harris’ family’s suspicion, however, is rooted in two pieces of information. First, a friend who was with Harris that night saw police immediately after Harris was hit, said Tikeera Harris, Deshayla’s sister. Deshayla was struck when she jumped into some bushes and her friend dived underneath them, the sister said.

The other is the location where Harris was shot in relation to where a Virginia Beach police officer shot and killed 25-year-old Donovon Lynch. The family believes Harris was in the line of fire of the officer or officers who fired at Lynch.

“I am a strong firm believer that the police killed my sister,” Tikeera Harris said.

Harris was shot in the 300 block of 19th Street, while Lynch was shot in the 300 block of 20th Street. A parking lot lies between those two areas.

Deshayla Harris’ family members wore T-shirts and face masks with Deshayla’s face on them Friday. They stood near the bushes where detectives told them her body was found.

Harris’ mother, Elisheba Harris, said she met with the police chief this week but police have provided her very little information about what happened. She said her family feels the pain every day, but it feels like everyone else is moving on.

“We don’t know anything,” she said. “It is like hush hush — nothing.”

The family also said Deshayla’s Instagram and Twitter accounts had been deleted while her phone was being examined by police. They are still trying to figure how the accounts disappeared.

Black Lives Matter 757 plans to hold a march for Harris at 5 p.m. Saturday on 19th Street at the Oceanfront.

Alissa Skelton, 757-995-9043, alissa.skelton@pilotonline.com