Gun violence shakes Beckley this spring

“It was the worst thing I have ever experienced in my life,” Rhoneka Medley said. “I ain’t never been through nothing so tragic. He was the love of my life, and I had to watch him take his last breath.”

On April 20, Rhoneka Medley and her husband Malique were driving in the East Park neighborhood when someone fired multiple rounds into the passenger side of their vehicle. 

Malique would later die as a result of his injuries, leaving a pregnant Rhoneka and their two children, who were also in the car at the time of the shooting, heartbroken and traumatized. He was 30 years old. 

Two days before the incident, a 17-year-old was shot in the Harper Road area while walking home from work. On April 22, three more victims were injured by gun violence, resulting in the death of 26-year-old Lashawn Shelton.

Protesters marched through East Park on April 23, seeking peace and unity after three instances of gun violence occurred in the span of five days. Danielle Stewart, chair of the Beckley Human Rights Commission, stopped and called for a moment of silence near Seventh Street and Sheridan Avenue, where the most recent shooting took place. 

Community outcry carried over into Beckley’s city council meeting on April 25, where several residents voiced their concerns. Braxton Berry said he longed for the days when people found solace living in Beckley. 

“There was a time when this community was a family-oriented place, a safe place,” Berry said. “But look at where we are now. We are afraid for our lives, afraid for our elders’ lives, and most of all, our children’s lives. We have taken what used to be a safe space in our community, and we’ve allowed it to be replaced with a horrible epidemic of gun and drug violence.”

Berry also called for unification among Beckley residents in the hopes of restoring the city’s sense of safety.

“We need to link together as a people, like a mighty chain in unity, and take back what belongs to us, our freedom and our peace,” Berry said. “And with that, let there be justice for those who lost their lives.” 

For Malique’s mother Donna Medley, peace of mind does not seem feasible after suffering the loss of her son. Her grieving process has also been compounded by a lack of communication from the Beckley Police Department regarding their investigation. 

Donna said her and her family are also still receiving death threats from the people who may be responsible.

“Now we’re just at a stand-still trying to get justice for Malique,” Donna said. “His life shouldn’t have been taken like that. We grieve every day. Not one day goes by that I don’t cry for my son. I can’t live like this for the rest of my life. I can’t walk out here on these streets and know that these people are still around me.” 

In a statement released on April 23, Deputy Chief David Allard said that detectives are investigating the possibility of the shooting that killed Malique to have been retaliatory, which Donna said simply isn’t true. 

She’s now doing everything she can to protect herself and her family going forward. 

Anyone with any information regarding the shootings is urged to contact BPD at 304-256-1720 or
Crime Stoppers of West Virginia at
Cash rewards will be paid for information leading to any arrest.

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