A 21-year-old woman suspected in a fatal hit-and-run has been arrested, authorities said Friday less than an hour after they publicly identified the suspect and offered a reward.
Shiauna M. Harris was arrested Friday, according to James Mercante, a spokesman for Richmond police. He said he did not have the details of her arrest, including the charges she faces.
Detectives believe Harris was operating a vehicle that struck four people, killing one, in the 1700 block of East Main Street in Shockoe Bottom just before 2 a.m. Wednesday.
Shanice Woodberry, a 22-year-old Chesterfield County resident, was killed. Two other women and a man were injured, one of them critically.
Richmond police have characterized Woodberry’s death as a homicide.
Police said Wednesday that they knew who the suspect was and were pursuing her, but it wasn’t until Friday that they released her name and photos and asked for help finding her. The U.S. Marshals Service offered a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to Harris’ arrest.
In less than an hour after Richmond police sent the news release with Harris’ name and photos, Mercante said, she had been arrested. No further details were immediately available.
Police did not provide a place of residence for Harris but said she was known to frequent the Midlothian Turnpike area in Richmond and also Emporia.
Before the incident early Wednesday, Woodberry had gone to Image Restaurant and Lounge at 1713 E. Main St. with friends, according to her mother, Robin Lewis.
Kyle Levin, the night manager at The Pizza Place, which is on the same block as Image, said Wednesday that an Image employee came over to alert him after a fight started outside. Woodberry’s parents said Woodberry was not involved.
The Image employee told Levin that a woman involved in the altercation had gotten into her car and struck one of the women she had been fighting with before continuing down Main Street.
Levin then went outside, where he saw the driver come back down Main Street and hit the three others, he said.
He said he then ran back to check out his restaurant’s security footage, which showed “the car coming down the intersection, and then drove down towards 19th Street, turned around, and came back through, and that’s when they hit the other people.”
Woodberry died at VCU Medical Center. Her father, Shakim Woodberry, called the incident “foolishness.”
“I hope she really understand what she took from us,” Shanice Woodberry’s mother said of the person responsible, adding that she hopes the driver takes responsibility.
Anyone with information about this incident should call Major Crimes Detective G. Bailey at (804) 646-6743 or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.
You can also contact Crime Stoppers by going to www.7801000.com or using the P3 Tips app for smartphones.
All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.
Shamin Hotels’ plans for an upscale hotel and conference center off Midlothian Turnpike are moving ahead after Chesterfield County supervisors approved a multimillion-dollar incentive package for the Chester-based company.
The series of tax breaks aimed at luring a $30 million investment to the county-owned 14-acre site was lauded by most supervisors as promoting Chesterfield’s growth, although one questioned extending those breaks to businesses not at the Stonebridge Shopping Center.
County officials sold the deal ahead of the board’s vote Wednesday as necessary to revitalizing the former Cloverleaf Mall property and the area around it. The project would help Chesterfield draw business travelers and people attending sports tournaments in county facilities, officials said. They defended the value of the incentives by noting the company would receive a tax break only on money it was making with new projects.
“They’re only getting the money back that they’re bringing in,” Supervisor Dorothy Jaeckle said, referring to Shamin Hotels officials. “We are not fronting money for this project. It’s incumbent upon what they build, and what comes in, so taxpayers are literally not at risk.”
Under the agreement, Shamin Hotels would be reimbursed for any sales, occupancy or real estate taxes for the new 200-room hotel under a contract requiring the developer to invest at least $30 million at the site. Those tax exemptions also would apply to a 10,000-square-foot conference center planned there. Chesterfield also will refund occupancy and property taxes from four other hotels the company is building or renovating at other sites in Midlothian and Chester.
Those incentives would remain in effect for 20 years or until Shamin recovers its costs for building the hotel and conference center and builds up a reserve fund for future renovations and maintenance of the property. In return, Shamin commits to constructing the hotel and conference center at the former Cloverleaf Mall along with related residential and commercial development there by July 31, 2024.
Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve the deal. Supervisors Leslie Haley, Christopher Winslow, James Holland and Jaeckle voted for the agreement. Steve Elswick, the board’s vice chairman, cast the dissenting vote.
Elswick on Thursday said that while he supports development efforts at Stonebridge, he is concerned about the parts of the agreement that provide Shamin with tax breaks at four other hotel properties.
“I think Stonebridge should be a stand-alone project,” Elswick said.
Beyond the Stonebridge site, Shamin is building a Residence Inn and is renovating a DoubleTree Inn next to Johnston-Willis Hospital off Midlothian Turnpike. The company also is building a Home2 Suites and a Hampton Inn at a site at state Route 10 and Interstate 95 in Chester. Shamin’s total estimated investment at Stonebridge and the four other Chesterfield hotels would amount to $125 million, according to county officials.
Shamin, which has been in business for 40 years, owns dozens of hotels in central Virginia, including the 250-room Hilton Richmond Hotel & Spa Short Pump in Henrico County.
Holland said he felt the deal was a net positive for Chesterfield but acknowledged that some of the details gave him pause.
“It has a lot of positives, and again I grimace at some of the arrangements, but I think it’s good for the county,” Holland said. “The county does need hotel rooms, a conference center.”
Holland on Thursday said that the potential 20-year window during which the tax breaks would be in effect was somewhat concerning.
The board heard concerns and approval Wednesday from residents who came to speak about the incentives package before the vote.
Phil Lohr, a member of the Chesterfield Citizens United group, said supervisors are rushing in as much commercial development as they can before their current terms end in six months.
“I really plead with you to look at the details of this, what you’re signing. Protect the citizens and the taxpayers,” Lohr said before the vote. “You’re getting criticism from outside areas and most people are laughing at this board for going into a deal like this just to finish developing Cloverleaf so you can hang your hat and say, ‘I’m going to have a conference center and a hotel.’ ”
Jay Lafler, a former manager of the old Cloverleaf Mall, lauded the efforts made by county officials, including Garrett Hart, director of Chesterfield’s Economic Development Authority.
“The deal that Garrett and economic development have worked with them [Shamin] is about the best deal that we can possibly get in today’s environment,” Lafler said. “It’s no longer a retail-first environment.”
Lafler was among several people to speak in support of the Stonebridge plan before the supervisors’ vote.
“We were pleased that numerous residents as well as the Chesterfield Chamber supported the county’s plan since there is zero risk to taxpayers and due to the fact that Shamin will invest tens of millions of dollars to revitalize the Midlothian corridor before receiving benefits, which are only awarded after the project is complete,” Neil Amin, Shamin’s CEO, wrote in an email Friday.
Amin said his company needs the grant agreement in order to make the Stonebridge project financially viable.
He also said that Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Hampton and Suffolk have all provided incentives to open full-service hotels in their localities.
Shamin, which says it has 8,200 rooms and 60 hotels in half a dozen states from New York to Florida, is buying the Stonebridge property from the county for about $2 million. But Shamin would get that money back if it decides to locate a new corporate headquarters at Stonebridge or another spot in Chesterfield.
“We certainly want to keep a corporate citizen like that within the boundaries of Chesterfield County,” said Matt Harris, a deputy county administrator.
In addition to the grant payments for the taxes generated by hotel projects in the county, the agreement calls for Shamin to receive reimbursements over a 10-year period for sales and real estate taxes generated by shops, restaurants, entertainment venues and residences that it would develop around the new Stonebridge hotel and conference center. Those reimbursements would amount to 80% of those tax revenues for the first seven years and then drop to 20% of taxes collected by year 10.
The agreement also would give Shamin up to $552,324 for road improvements on the Stonebridge property. Harris said that road improvement money had been set aside years ago and would have been available to whomever developed the property. Stonebridge currently has a Kroger, apartments, shops and restaurants.
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State election officials on Friday sanctioned Hanover County Supervisor Scott Wyatt as the Republican nominee for the 97th House District.
The decision by the board on Friday dealt a critical blow to efforts by Republican Del. Chris Peace, also of Hanover, to hold on to his seat through a heated nomination fight months in the making.
Peace’s odds appeared diminished last week when the highest body of the Republican Party of Virginia voted overwhelmingly to certify Wyatt as the nominee.
The State Board of Elections accepted that decision Friday upon receipt of a letter from RPV Chairman Jack Wilson.
The party’s secretary communicated the resolution by the RPV State Central Committee to election officials on Monday, but the email did not pass the department’s muster, prompting a signed letter by Wilson himself.
Both candidates have for weeks claimed they are the rightful nominee according to two separate nominating contests — a May 4 convention attended mostly by Wyatt supporters and a June 1 firehouse primary in which Peace prevailed.
Peace, who has held the seat for 13 years, said he is considering his options and does not plan to concede.
“There are people here asking me to challenge in court to get on the ballot. I’m evaluating that option and have everything ready to file. Many others are asking me to support their grassroots effort to stage a write-in,” Peace said. “I do not plan to concede an election when the people’s voice was discounted.”
Wyatt attorney Jeff Adams, who sits on the State Central Committee, said that the legal hiccup with state election officials was simply an “oversight,” and said that as far as the campaign in concerned, Wyatt has cleared all hurdles.
“The decisions that needed to be made have been made,” Adams said.
Wyatt announced in late January that he would challenge Peace, mounting a campaign that painted Peace as an establishment Republican who betrayed conservative principles by supporting Medicaid expansion in 2018. Peace has pitched himself as a coalition builder and policy-oriented statesman.
Republicans have held the 97th District seat since 2002. New Kent County resident Kevin Washington, who works for the Department of Defense in information technology, is running for the seat as a Democrat. The district covers parts of Hanover and King William counties and all of New Kent.
Kilgore ballot glitch
Also on Friday, the State Board of Elections agreed to include Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Scott, on the ballot for the 1st House District, which he has represented since 1994.
The powerful Southwest Virginia lawmaker, who is chairman of the Commerce and Labor Committee, said that he successfully participated in the process to be certified as the Republican candidate for the seat, but that state election officials never received the forms filed by local Republican leaders specifying him as the party’s nominee.
The board made the decision to include him on the ballot during a closed session and did not provide details.
CHARLOTTESVILLE — An avowed white supremacist who deliberately drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a young woman and injuring dozens, apologized to his victims Friday before being sentenced to life in prison on federal hate crime charges.
James Alex Fields Jr., of Maumee, Ohio, had pleaded guilty in March to 29 of 30 hate crimes in connection with the 2017 attack that killed Heather Heyer and injured more than two dozen others. Prosecutors and Fields’ lawyers agreed that federal sentencing guidelines called for a life sentence. But his attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski to consider a sentence of “less than life,” hoping he would take into account Fields’ troubled childhood and mental health issues.
Just before Urbanski announced his sentence, the 22-year-old Fields, accompanied by one of his lawyers, walked to a podium in the courtroom and apologized.
“Every day I think about how things could have gone differently and how I regret my actions. I’m sorry,” he said.
His comments came after more than a dozen survivors of and witnesses to the attack delivered emotional testimony about the physical and psychological wounds they had suffered.
“You had a choice to leave Charlottesville, but you did not,” said Rosia Parker, a longtime civil rights activist in Charlottesville who said she was standing feet away from Heyer when Heyer was struck by Fields’ car.
“You could have done anything else but what you did. So, yeah, you deserve everything that you get,” said Parker, her voice breaking as she stared at Fields, who appeared stoic. He didn’t look at any of the victims as they spoke.
Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, said she wanted Fields to spend his life in prison but also hoped he would get the medication he needed and that one day he would change his views and no longer support white supremacy.
“I hope he can heal someday and help others heal,” Bro said. After the hearing, she said she did not believe Fields’ apology was sincere, but instead was a last-ditch attempt to get a lighter sentence.
Fields drove from Ohio to attend the Aug. 12, 2017, Unite the Right rally that drew hundreds of white nationalists to Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Hundreds of counterprotesters also showed up.
President Donald Trump sparked controversy when he blamed the violence at the rally on “both sides,” a statement that critics saw as a refusal to condemn racism.
After Fields was sentenced, a Department of Justice official condemned his actions.
“Hate crimes violate the most fundamental American values of freedom and human dignity,” said Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, at a news conference with federal prosecutors after Fields was sentenced.
“The bigotry and ideology of neo-Nazism, Nazism, white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan are a disgrace to this country, and illegal acts based on those should be eradicated from the United States,” Dreiband said.
Prosecutors said Fields had a long history of racist and anti-Semitic behavior and had shown no remorse for his crimes. They said he is an avowed white supremacist, admired Adolf Hitler and even kept a picture of the Nazi leader on his bedside table.
During the sentencing hearing Friday, FBI special agent Wade Douthit said a classmate described Fields as being “like a kid at Disney World” during a high school trip to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.
Douthit read grand jury testimony from the classmate, who said Fields appeared happy and made the remark that “this is where the magic happened.”
The statement provoked audible gasps from the crowd packed into the Charlottesville courtroom.
The classmate said that when Fields viewed the camp’s gas chamber, he said: “It’s almost like you can still hear them screaming.”
During Fields’ state trial, attorneys focused on his history of mental illness and traumatic childhood. A psychologist testified that Fields had inexplicable outbursts as a young child, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 6, and was later diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder.
In a sentencing memo, defense attorneys said Fields was raised by a paraplegic single mother and had suffered trauma knowing that his Jewish grandfather had slain his grandmother before taking his own life.
Fields’ sentencing in the state case is set for July 15.