‘When is enough enough?’

Slaying of Va. State Police Special Agent Michael T. Walter grips Mosby Court

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 6/2/2017, 7:47 a.m.
At an April community meeting, residents of Mosby Court pleaded with Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham for a crackdown to ...
Former Special Officer Brad Hughes, who lost his legs in the line of duty in 2014, visits the memorial to Virginia State Police Special Agent Michael T. Walter that sits outside of the State Police Headquarters on Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield County. Mr. Hughes said Tuesday that he knew Agent Walter and wanted to pay his respects.

At an April community meeting, residents of Mosby Court pleaded with Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham for a crackdown to end the violence in the section of the public housing community located off Accommodation Street in the East End.

He was urged to set up roadblocks to force people to show IDs to enter Mosby Court, to authorize officers to conduct pat downs and to take other steps to improve the safety of residents who have seen seven people killed and at least 19 others wounded this year in this small section of the city.

But the police chief said “that would be going too far,” said Arthur Burton, a Mosby Court advocate who created and operates Kinfolk Community Empowerment Center that works with residents for the betterment of the community.

Mr. Burton said the failure of city officials to take strong action to weed out of the community those with a propensity for violence laid the groundwork for the latest fatal shooting in Mosby Court, this time of a member of the Virginia State Police.

State Police Special Agent Michael T. Walter, 45, was shot in the head Friday evening allegedly by a convicted felon who lived in Mosby Court. Agent Walter died early Saturday at a Richmond hospital. A former Marine and father of three, he mentored youths in his time off duty and had mentored a youth wrestling club in Powhatan County.

An 18-year State Police veteran, Agent Walter was with a Richmond Police officer conducting an enforcement initiative in Mosby Court when he was shot.

“When is enough enough?” Mr. Burton said. “We have made the name of this community synonymous with violence. Just say the name Mosby, and there is an expectation that this kind of behavior is OK.

“People deserve to feel safe in their community. When two teenagers are killed and nothing happens,” he said, referencing a shocking double homicide in Mosby Court in March, “that sends a message. The trooper’s death is important, but no more important that the others who have been killed.”

Neither Mayor Levar M. Stoney nor Chief Durham has responded to a Free Press query on whether additional patrols or enforcement steps are planned for Mosby Court.

Chief Durham, in public statements, indicated that Mosby would be one focus of the summer Fugitives and Firearms Initiative in which the city police team with other law enforcement groups to arrest people who have outstanding warrants or unlawfully possess handguns.

However, the chief put the onus on terrified residents to “help bring change” in Mosby.

“This has been one of the most challenging communities in the city this year,” he told reporters after the special agent’s slaying. “Be the change you want to see,” he said, in once again urging people to report crimes. “Nobody should be able to come in here and wreak havoc as such to have somebody lose their life.”

So far, such words have had little impact in halting the shootings, which have been epidemic this year, but commonplace in Mosby in recent years.