Police Warn of Violence at ODU Parties

By: Watson Swail

Police are warning Old Dominion University students to be more careful when they throw parties – especially off campus  – after a series of party-related violence. Over the past six months, at four parties, two people were shot and at least two seriously injured in assaults, according to police and witnesses. Two incidents involved ODU football players.

“People from the area, or even around the region, find about a party through social media. They show up, can’t get in and get upset,” Lieutenant Keitha Boone of the Old Dominion University Police Boone told a journalism class in April.  Boone said thieves frequently target party houses to steal electronics  like phones and laptops. Far worse, is when innocent bystanders are shot or assaulted.

Two high-profile ODU students recently have damaged their reputations and possibly their future careers due to violence at parties. One has been convicted. The other is awaiting trial.

On March 23, ODU wide receiver Jakwail Bailey attended a private party on 39th Street. While there, witnesses said, Bailey punched an ODU student, breaking his jaw in two places. The student was taken to the hospital. The victim must have his mouth wired shut for at least six weeks. Bailey was arrested and charged with felonious malicious wounding on March 25, and released on bond. He has been suspended from the football team.

“For those wondering why I got hit, it was a random attack,” the victim posted on his Facebook page. “A guy came in …looking for trouble, he wanted to punch a girl too, but he got me instead.”

The day before Bailey was arrested, in a separate case, suspended Old Dominion University linebacker Larry Alston III pleaded guilty in Norfolk Circuit Court to one count of felony unlawful wounding, was given a five-year suspended sentence and banned from ODU campus. Alston had been arrested on Nov. 12 for aggravated assault after attacking a man the day before when he was denied entry to a party that was “invitation only” on the 800 block of 48th Street. Alston was dismissed from the football team. Channel 3 news reported that two people were assaulted and both hospitalized as a result of their injuries. The owners of the home were unavailable for comment.

The intersection of 40th St and Bowden’s Ferry Rd in Norfolk

The intersection of 40th St and Bowden’s Ferry Rd. Photo courtesy of Google Maps

In another incident, on Feb. 16, an Old Dominion University student was shot outside a house party at 40th St and Bowden’s Ferry Rd at around 1 A.M. by a man who was trying to get into the party without permission. According to witnesses, the man – described as a 5’8”, 160- pound African-American  – first tried walking in the front door and was turned away. Then he tried getting in through the back door from an alley behind the house.

Witnesses told WAVY Channel 10 news that police were running with search dogs. searching for the suspect while the victim was taken to a local hospital. The suspect was never found and police are still looking for him.

“People try to get into the private parties all the time so no one was concerned after the guy tried to get in the first couple times,” said John Krom during an interview. Krom, an ODU student was working the door at the party.

Krom said a group of guys from the party told the man he had to leave. “It’s pretty obvious that he came back to try and shoot somebody or cause some sort of scene,” Krom said.

According to Krom, Police were at the scene in less than five minutes.

Other incidents have apparently gone unreported.

On March 22, at 1 AM., a man shot himself in the leg outside a party near the intersection of 42nd Street and Killam Ave. “There was the shot and then someone said ‘oh crap, I shot myself’ and everyone started to laugh and several women got annoyed and left,” said Shjon Stamps, an ODU student who was there. “Everyone left the area around the house and went to another party across the street while the victim’s friends reprimanded him for bringing a gun and for scaring all the girls off. They seemed more worried about that than his injuries.”

Five minutes later, two Old Dominion Police vehicles drove up and down the street, Stamps said, but did not seem to detect that anything had gone wrong. Stamps said he didn’t know what happened to the victim, but said no one called an ambulance. “Within a half-hour the party was back to normal like nothing ever happened,” said Stamps.

Police have tried to educate students about the dangers of outside visitors crashing private parties.

Boone said students should be more careful about who they let into their homes as well as more carefully advertising these parties. Locking up and hiding valuables during parties can help prevent theft.

While police want to protect students and let them know of the dangers of large out-of-control parties, students resent police going undercover, making arrests or breaking up parities.

“I honestly feel like police are paid to just break up parties as opposed to keeping us safe” said Sam Sterling, a junior at ODU. But Lieutenant Boone said police are not there to stop students from partying, but to “get young adults to party responsibly and give them tips and advice to keep them safe.”

Sher-Nae Earls contributed to this report.