The lead-up to a quadruple shooting that killed a Richmond teenager Thursday was broadcast live on Facebook from a friend’s cellphone as online comments anticipating a fight rolled in: “Who fighting?” “Beat dat lil s — up.” “Bye girl send the fight to me.” “Get everything.”
On Friday afternoon, police confirmed Jacquesha “Billie” Clanton, 18, died Thursday night from wounds suffered during a 7:30 p.m. shooting at the Newman Village Apartments on Old Brook Road in North Richmond. Friends said she was a George Wythe High School student who anticipated graduating in August after a session of summer school. She worked at Kings Dominion in grounds maintenance.
Police said three other people in their early 20s were also shot in what witnesses described as a dozen-person melee that ended with at least 15 shots being fired by an unknown party. The injuries suffered by the three surviving victims, whom police did not name, were not life-threatening.
Police said they’re investigating Clanton’s death as a homicide.
“She was a happy person, always playful, joking around,” said Jakhira Brown, a close friend. “She had a laugh that’ll make you laugh when you hear it. She was a great friend if you needed her.”
Brown said Clanton was not the instigator of the fight that preceded the shooting, but was along to support a friend. “She was there for her friends no matter what,” she said.
In a different matter earlier in the day on Thursday, public posts and live videos that Clanton shared on Facebook, where she had nearly 5,000 friends and nearly 3,000 people subscribed to her posts, appeared to show her and her friends searching for and taunting an unknown person she expected to fight.
“The field is right there,” she said about three hours before the shooting in a broadcast from Fairfield Court in Richmond’s East End. “I’m really not tripping. Because y’all know me — I handle my own. Anybody I fight for my damn self. I don’t need nobody to fight for me baby because I’m good. I’m good.”
The video from Fairfield was posted at roughly 4:30 p.m. It closes with an unknown teenager coming on the screen expressing disappointment that at a prior fight, pepper spray was used against her.
At no point in the videos and Facebook posts was it clear what either dispute was about.
Brown said that the prior fight, which she said was Clanton’s, was unrelated to the 7:30 p.m. brawl at Newman Village that ended in the shooting. Police said they could not discuss those details because they are part of the investigation.
“Jacquesha just was at the wrong place at the wrong time in that fight,” she said, referring to the fight that ended in gunfire. “Those were two different fights which had nothing to do with each other. I’m not saying she’s the best behaved teen out here, but she didn’t deserve that at all. Nobody deserves to lose their life due to simple drama.”
After the shooting, Clanton’s friends posted on Facebook expressing disbelief that someone had brought a gun to the fight and, later, shock that Clanton had been killed.
A man who was apparently with Clanton at the shooting posted a photo of a bloody shirt with the caption, “Took the shirt off my back to cover up the wound and she still ain’t make it bra??”
In a series of messages with a reporter, the friend who posted the Newman Village video also said that Clanton was not fighting. “She was just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” the teen said.
The friend later posted on Facebook, where Clanton goes by the family name Billie, which is what her friends call her: “Billie called me a couple days ago talking bout don’t let nobody put know clouds around me when i die. i straight laughed at her a — like wtf you talking about yo a — ain’t gone die.”
Other efforts to reach other family and friends were unsuccessful Friday. Clanton’s Facebook page gave the impression of a young woman with a big sense of humor who liked to share lighthearted videos of herself online. In one she danced in an exaggerated way. In another, she wrapped her hair into an oversized bun and made fun of herself. In another recent post she expressed frustration about having only two days off this week.
Hundreds of tributes appeared online Thursday night and Friday morning under the hashtag LongLiveBillie. “We need you back. This ain’t right,” one person posted in a typical comment.
Others used the hashtag to express frustration about the public nature in which the fight and the death was shared: “Why go live while her body laid there in blood? Why … are you live in the hospital after they pronounced her dead.. showing everyone during their time of grief ??? WHYYYYYYY”
Similar frustrations were apparent at the scene of the shooting Thursday night, where bystanders were aware of the Facebook exchanges that preceded the killing.
“Facebook needs to be shut down,” one woman said to no one in particular as she walked away from Newman Village.
Clanton is the sixth teenager to be killed in a shooting in Richmond this year. In March, a 15- and 16-year-old were shot and killed in Mosby Court in the city’s East End. In April, an 18-year-old was killed on Midlothian Turnpike. And last week, a 15- and 16-year-old were killed in a double homicide in South Richmond.
An additional 12 homicide victims so far this year were younger than 25.
Police said they don’t have a suspect description to release at this time and are asking the public for help. They asked anyone with information about the incident to call Major Crimes Detective R. Wigfall at (804) 646-6769 or Crime Stoppers at 780-1000 and www.7801000.com.
Police Chief Alfred Durham said the Facebook videos of the disagreements Thursday are part of the evidence officers are reviewing.
“It’s no secret,” he said. “You go online right now and you see that a lot of these incidents are happening — it starts with social media.”
Durham said arguments on social media are driving a significant portion of violence among youths in the city. He called on parents to do more to monitor their children’s activities on their phones.
“A simple posting on social media ends up with somebody seriously injured or, in this case, we have a dead child — she had just turned 18.”