Student Council’s General Body did not discuss legislation at Tuesday's meeting but addressed a recent string of deaths at the University. Ceci Cain, Student Council president and graduate Batten student, began this week’s meeting by acknowledging a shooting over the weekend that resulted in the death of a University contractor.
The University emergency notification system issued a shots fired alert at 2:02 a.m. March 18, and later added that there was an individual who was injured in a shooting on Elliewood Ave. The victim was 26-year-old Charlottesville resident Cody Brian Smith, a contractor with the University, and he ultimately died from his injuries after being transported to U.Va. Medical Center.
The Charlottesville Police Department arrested 21-year-old Charlottesville resident Lakori Brooks March 20 as a suspect in the shooting and charged him with second-degree murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
“I know we’re probably all grappling with that in different ways, especially with gun violence hitting very close to home to this campus and this student body right now,” Cain said.
The death of this University community member follows an overall uptick in gun violence in Charlottesville and concerns over safety. Another shooting Nov. 13 resulted in the deaths of three University students — second-year College student Devin Chandler, fourth-year College student D’Sean Perry, and third-year College student Lavel Davis Jr.
Charlottesville City Police Chief Michael Kochis held a community forum Feb. 27 regarding gun violence. At the forum, Kochis discussed various tactics that the police department will use to target the increase in violence, including clustering police officers around crime hotspot areas, working with the FBI to track guns in Charlottesville and increasing community involvement to build trust between the city and the police department.
Cain brought supplies, including construction paper and markers, to make sympathy cards for the Elliewood Ave. victim’s family at the meeting. She plans to leave more supplies in the Student Council office for anyone else to make cards in the next few days. Cain also said that the Student Council plans to donate to a GoFundMe for the victim’s family.
According to Cain, the victim’s father also works for the University as a custodian in the School of Education and Human Development.
“There’s nothing that we can do to fix this or solve this, but we can kind of just be here in solidarity and acknowledge that’s on our minds and in our hearts as well,” said Cain
Third-year College Representative Andreas Masiakos said that many students were concerned that they do not know the perpetrator’s motive, including whether the perpetrator and victim knew each other or if it was a random attack.
“A lot of students expressed frustration over the lack of information,” Masiakos said.“That knowledge could better inform student behavior, especially in regard to the uptick in violence that’s been happening.”