On heels of Roanoke murder, mayor calls for action

Published: May. 11, 2017 at 10:38 PM EDT
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Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea says he is deeply concerned by the recent string of violence in the city. This comes on the same day police arrested a man in connection to an attempted armed robbery that resulted in a death.

In recent months there have been shootings and missing women in the headlines. With the traditionally high crime time of summer on the horizon, Mayor Lea says action needs to happen quickly.

After a few days, Roanoke police have the person allegedly responsible for this behind bars. Donye Smith died after a random front yard armed robbery Sunday night.

"I had no emotion, I didn't feel any sympathy for him. I have bags under my eyes his parents, his father, his mother all of us we've cried and can't stop crying so his tears meant nothing to me really," Brenda Brown, Smith's stepmother said.

Brown saw Lacquaine Myers cry during his second-degree murder arraignment Thursday morning. She says no one in her circle knows who he is.

"If you don't have something you have no right to go and rob, steal and kill just to get it. Work, be your own individual, work for what you want like we were raised to do," Brown said.

Lea says he's assembling an action plan with police to figure out how to buck the recent trend of violence. In his eyes, people are just not afraid of the punishment.

"I feel stronger action (is needed), I think if you're caught with a gun then there should be some penalty. I'm just so concerned with actions that are taken by people and they end up back on the street right after a shooting or an incident occurs, that's troubling," Lea said.

Brown tells WDBJ7 Myers told police during the investigation he was the one who did it, and that he did not know his victim. He picked them purely because they were in a nice car.

"My hope is that we as a community even in the criminal justice system do not get immune to what's going on," Lea said.

Brown unwillingly is no stranger to violence. As she now plans a funeral, she hopes something will change.

"I do thank Detective Haley and the Roanoke City Police Detectives for their tireless work in getting it done. He promised it that he would and he did and I have to be honest with you I didn't think it would happen," Brown said.

Smith leaves behind two children, a pre-teen and a teenager. One continues to check his phone waiting for his dad to call as he did every day. The other is getting ready to celebrate a birthday, and is now obviously having a very tough time knowing her dad is no longer here.