Shanice Woodberry exchanged texts with her mother less than an hour before the 22-year-old was fatally struck Wednesday morning by a car that plowed into her and three other people on East Main Street in Shockoe Bottom.
“Are you good?” Robin Lewis asked her daughter.
“Yes,” Woodberry replied.
Lewis thought her daughter was headed back to their Chesterfield County home, and she went to sleep. She awoke around 3 a.m. to find her daughter’s bed empty and grew worried.
“When I saw the news on Facebook, I just had a feeling,” Lewis said. At that time, there were reports of an accident involving several women downtown. “I knew Shanice was downtown with some girlfriends. I just knew it was her.”
Woodberry’s cousin, who had been with her earlier that evening when the two had gone to Image Restaurant and Lounge at 1713 E. Main St., called Lewis telling her to get to VCU Medical Center, where Woodberry died.
“She’s gone,” Lewis cried in an emotional interview Thursday at her home. “She’s gone, and I don’t know what to do.
“How do you go from 22 years to nothing?” she asked. “How do you go back and put the pieces together? How do you go back and find purpose — she was my purpose for living. She was my best friend.”
Lewis leaned on Shakim Woodberry, Shanice’s father, as he comforted her.
“We’re going to get through this,” Shakim Woodberry told Lewis. “I don’t know how, but we’ll get through this. It was well spent, our 22 years we had with her.”
Shakim Woodberry called it “foolishness” that took his daughter’s life. Apparently, there was an altercation outside the club involving the driver, who fled the scene after hitting Shanice Woodberry and three others. The parents said Shanice Woodberry was not involved in the fight.
The Richmond police have characterized Woodberry’s death as a homicide.
“I just think it’s so damn unfair,” said Audrey Lewis, Shanice Woodberry’s aunt. “She was just out enjoying herself. She’s a wonderful girl.”
Woodberry had graduated from Monacan High School and worked as a medical technician at a group home for people with mental disabilities. She was planning to attend J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in the fall to start the nursing program, following in her mother’s footsteps. She took after her mother in most things, Shakim Woodberry said.
This week’s killing is another in a string of sporadic incidents of violence in Shockoe Bottom over the past several years, including a double shooting outside Image in 2017 and several other shootings near or inside nightclubs in the entertainment district. In the 2017 incident outside Image, two lifelong friends were fatally shot during a fight.
The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority’s Bureau of Law Enforcement is conducting an investigation into Wednesday’s hit-and-run and working with the Richmond police.
“We’re looking into whether anything that happened inside the licensed establishment was connected with the incident,” ABC spokeswoman Taylor Thornberg said Thursday.
Police responded to the 1700 block of East Main shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday for a report of a pedestrian hit. Officers found two women and a man who had been struck by a car. The three were rushed to a hospital, where Woodberry died. The other woman had life-threatening injuries as of Wednesday afternoon.
Police learned later that a fourth person had taken herself to a hospital after being struck in the same incident.
Kyle Levin, the night manager at The Pizza Place on the southwest corner of East Main Street and South 18th Street, said Wednesday evening that he had witnessed part of the fatal event.
Levin said a bar employee at Image came over to alert him after a fight had started outside between the driver and the eventual victims. The Image employee told Levin that the driver, a woman, had gotten into her car and struck one of the female victims before continuing down Main Street.
Levin then went outside, where he saw the driver come back down Main Street and hit the other three victims, he said.
“I went outside to see,” Levin said. “I see the two girls were hit [on Main Street], and then the guy got dragged down the road.”
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.”
Richmond Police Chief William Smith said Wednesday afternoon that the police know who is responsible for the crime and were “actively pursuing the individual.” The police provided no update on the case Thursday.
ABC conducts public safety investigations when an act of violence involving death or bodily harm occurs in or near an ABC-licensed establishment.
Thornberg said Image has active licenses with ABC for selling mixed beverages and wine and beer. If a decision is made to penalize the club, it will likely happen on Friday, she said.
In one week last August, three people were shot outside one nightclub in Shockoe Bottom, and five people were shot inside a restaurant in the area.
The triple shooting unfolded outside Plush Restaurant and Lounge, which was located at 1708 E. Main St. across the street from Image. Shortly after that shooting, Plush’s mixed-beverage and wine-and-beer licenses were revoked and have remained so, Thornberg said.
The other shooting last August unfolded during a robbery at the Liquid Cafe in the first block of North 18th Street. Five people were shot and a sixth person was struck by falling debris. The club currently has active mixed-beverage and wine-and-beer licenses, Thornberg said.
A few weeks after those two shootings, a man was shot in the leg in Shockoe Bottom, making him at least the ninth person wounded by gunfire within that three-week period in the Bottom.
Earlier in 2018, three people were shot in June on East Main Street in Shockoe Bottom. In May of that year, two men were wounded in a stabbing during a fight at the Canal Club on Cary Street. In January, another stabbing on East Main Street injured two people.