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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > Triple Shooting in Virginia Beach on Christmas Eve

Triple Shooting in Virginia Beach on Christmas Eve


An apparent shootout killed one person and wounded two others, and police have no leads or suspects.

Shortly after midnight Sunday, the Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) responded to a report of shots fired in the area of Riverbend and Lakecrest roads. There, officers found two men who had been shot. One of them died from his injuries at the scene while the other was rushed to a hospital where he remains in “critical condition,” according to VBPD. Police said a third person later arrived at a hospital with gunshot wounds related to the same shooting. There’s no word on the severity of their injuries.

Neighbors said they heard gunshots but didn’t know the circumstances of the shooting. No arrests have been made at this time and police did not release a suspect description.

Physical Evidence

Police investigators usually scour crime scenes for physical evidence, and they usually find it. This evidence might or might not be reliable, mostly depending on the courtroom skills of a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer.

Right off the bat, there’s a difference between reliability and accuracy. A broken clock is unreliable, even though it’s accurate twice a day.

In some areas, mostly fingerprints, DNA, and ballistics, the science is well-established. Technology plays a part as well. Partial and latent fingerprints were once almost useless. Today, computers enhance these images.

However, just like there’s a difference between reliability and accuracy, there’s a difference between scientific reliability and legal reliability.

Chain of custody problems often make evidence unreliable. Generally, scientific evidence moves from the scene to a police laboratory to an evidence locker room to a courtroom. In their rush to complete investigations, officers often take shortcuts, thinking they won’t be held accountable for these shortcomings later.

Officer bias comes into play as well. Police officers, like the rest of us, sometimes hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest.

Other scientific evidence is scientifically unreliable. Such unreliable evidence includes clothing fibers, tire tracks, and blood traces. This proof may be compelling enough to pressure a defendant into confessing. But it’s not compelling enough to hold up in court on its own. Hundreds of thousands of people in Virginia wear white cotton shirts or have type O blood.


Sometimes, physical evidence helps investigators identify persons of interest. Usually, however, identifying suspects is a long process that starts with people in the area who have criminal records or who may have had a motive.

At this point, police begin winnowing suspects. Some have alibis, others are unsupported by physical evidence, and others have no corroborating witnesses (e.g. Fred saw Bill a few blocks away from the scene of the crime).

Both the roundup and the winnowing process often involve procedural errors. In many cases, these procedural errors trigger the exclusionary rule. Evidence police officers obtain in these situations, regardless of its reliability or accuracy, is inadmissible.

Initial interviews often have search and seizure issues. For example, officers might scroll though Mary’s phone, looking for incriminating text messages. Mary has a constitutional right to privacy for all content past the home screen. Therefore, before they look at texts, officers must have a warrant or Mary’s consent.

Stacked lineups adversely affect the winnowing process. Single-photo lineups are the worst offenders. If someone with authority, like a police officer, asks a witness a question, the witness usually tells the officer what s/he thinks the officer wants to hear.

Incidentally, suspects have a constitutional right to refuse to pose for pictures. The Fifth Amendment’s right to remain silent applies in these situations.

Count on a Diligent Loudoun County Lawyer

There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Leesburg, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.



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