“It’s time to turn it over,” Neudigate said. “Hopefully this will give our community the assurance that a comprehensive investigation will be conducted.”
During a chaotic string of shootings Friday night on the city’s oceanfront that left two dead and eight wounded, Lynch, 25, of Virginia Beach, was shot by a city police officer with five years’ service in the department. The killing has sparked protests and drawn national attention.
In an update Tuesday, Neudigate told the council the probe has been hampered by a lack of evidence. Neudigate said it’s still unclear why the officer who shot Lynch did not have his body camera switched on at the time he opened fire. A plainclothes detective who saw the shooting was not wearing a body camera.
Neudigate said police may have a third witness who saw parts of the shooting, but investigators have not found video recordings of the event. He said the circumstances have made it difficult for police to provide the type of transparency the community expects.
“I’ve worked a lot of these in 32 years of policing,” Neudigate said. “This is the first time that I’ve encountered a situation where we have no bodyworn camera footage, we have no independent video footage, we have no immediate independent witnesses, and we have no timely statements from the involved parties.”
The Virginia Beach police said Monday that the officer who shot Lynch, and the second officer at the scene, told investigators earlier in the day that Lynch was brandishing a handgun at the time he was shot. Police said a handgun was recovered at the scene and released a photo of it.
Lynch’s family has not responded to requests for comment, but a reporter for the Portsmouth TV station WAVY said the man’s father, Wayne Lynch, told him in an interview that his son pulled out the weapon only after he was shot by police and that he was licensed to carry the firearm. The father said his son owned a security company and was not involved in the violence that occurred Friday night.
At a vigil Tuesday evening in Virginia Beach, Wayne Lynch and other family members said Donovon Lynch was a supportive brother, a positive influence in the community and someone “who followed the rules.” Supporters lit candles, and a photo of Lynch in a graduation gown was propped against a tree.
“I’ve been working day and night trying to prevent other kids from getting killed, and my son got killed,” Wayne Lynch said. “For nothing. For walking down the street. Beautiful young man. Smart. Intelligent. Handsome. Athletic.”
Neudigate has declined to comment on what specifically led to Lynch’s shooting, saying he did not want to taint the investigation. But the chief has said that Friday night’s incidents involved three separate shootings that occurred after 11 p.m.
In the first in the Oceanfront Resort Area, Neudigate said five men fired weapons, striking nine people. Neudigate said an officer happened to be on the scene and chased one of the men suspected of firing shots. Neudigate said that multiple people have been charged and that some have connections to two local gangs. Police said they recovered 14 guns from the scene.
The second incident occurred a short time later, when multiple people opened fire nearby, striking a bystander named Deshayla Harris, 28, of Norfolk, who died at the scene. Neudigate said that police recovered three weapons and 56 bullet casings and that nine cars were struck by bullets.
The shooting of Donovon Lynch occurred around the same time as the officer encountered him. The officer worked in the special operations division and has been put on routine administrative leave as the investigation unfolds.
Virginia State Police said in a statement that the Chesapeake field office would handle the probe. A range of officials and groups including Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) and the local chapter of the NAACP had called for an independent investigation.
“The investigation has been initiated and is ongoing at this time,” police spokeswoman Corinne Geller wrote in an email. “Once state police completes its investigation, the criminal investigative file will be turned over to the Commonwealth’s Attorney for final review and adjudication of the matter.”
Lynch was a football player and graduate of the University of Virginia at Wise. Pharrell Williams, the star musician who grew up in Virginia Beach, announced Monday night that Lynch was his cousin and that he was mourning him.
“It is critical my family and the other victims’ families get the transparency they deserve,” Williams wrote on Twitter. “VA Beach is the epitome of hope and we will get through this.”
Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.