City man, 21, injured in South Street shootout

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 11, 2007

FRANKLIN—City police investigators say they have little information and no suspects from a shooting Sunday night that left one 21-year-old in the hospital with a serious chest wound.

According to Lt. Timothy Whitt of the Franklin Police Department, shots were exchanged between one or more occupants of 401 Chestnut St., which is on the corner of South Street, and several gunmen who were in at least two groups on the street.

&uot;So, we had a crossfire situation,&uot; Whitt said.

Whitt said, &uot;Right now, we’re getting help from the community, still trying to find out names.&uot; He said investigators are looking for &uot;multiple individuals.&uot;

&uot;We don’t have a motive, or who fired first,&uot; Whitt said.

But 21-year-old Melvin Stephens Jr., who was in he house at the time, was hit three times, once each in the hand, arm and chest. He was taken to Southampton Memorial Hospital before being transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where he was listed in serious condition Tuesday afternoon.

At 7:59 p.m. Sunday, Franklin Police were called to the scene where shots were fired. By the time they arrived, Stephens and his assailants were no longer on the property

Police scoured the area for eight hours into Monday morning, gathering evidence and interviewing neighbors. No suspects have been identified, Whitt said.

Whitt said &uot;at least 15 to 20&uot; shots were fired in what witnesses said was a 30-second exchange, Whitt said.

Police gathered shell casings and bullet fragments in and around the house. Whitt would not offer details about the evidence found by police.

&uot;We don’t know the specific evidence of [shell casings] caliber yet,&uot; he said.

Whitt said the size and scope of the gun battle &uot;is certainly out of the norm&uot; for Franklin. He also said the location &uot;can’t be called a high-crime area.&uot;

Whitt asks anyone with information to call the anonymous Crime Solvers hotline at 562-8599.