Watch CBS News

Editor called reporter to cover Virginia shooting before realizing she had been killed

Shots fired: America's epidemic of gun violence
Shots fired: America's epidemic of gun violence 10:46

A Virginia newspaper reporter was one of two people killed during a shooting early Saturday outside a restaurant and bar, authorities said. Sierra Jenkins, 25, who covered education for The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, died at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital after the shooting outside Chicho's Pizza Backstage, according to officials.

Jenkins was assigned to cover breaking news on Saturday, the newspaper reported, and when an editor initially learned of the shooting, he called Jenkins multiple times to ask her to go to the scene — not realizing Jenkins was one of the shooting victims.

Norfolk police detectives were investigating the shooting, which also resulted in injuries to three others. Jenkins was caught in the crossfire as she was leaving the bar, restaurant manager Rory Schindel told the newspaper. No arrests had been announced as of Saturday afternoon.

Shopping Center Shooting Vigil
Photos of Sierra Jenkins are displayed during a vigil Sunday, March 20, 2022, at Granby High School in Norfolk, Va. Jenkins, a reporter for the Virginian-Pilot died at a Norfolk hospital after being shot during a shooting early Saturday outside a restaurant and bar.  Stephen M. Katz / AP

She had celebrated her 25th birthday just six days earlier, the newspaper reported.

Her close friend, Demmi Nimer, was with Jenkins when gunfire erupted. "I'm devastated," Nimer told the newspaper by text message. "I was with her when everything happened and just wish I could've done more to help her."

Jenkins grew up in Norfolk and graduated from Georgia State University. She worked as an intern at Atlanta Magazine and CNN before joining The Pilot in December 2020.

"Sierra was a bright and talented woman with so much going for her. Her passion for journalism was undeniable and our community is better because of her reporting," said Kris Worrell, editor-in-chief of Virginia Media, which operates The Virginian-Pilot and several other newspapers. "Sierra was funny and energetic and full of enthusiasm. We are absolutely heartbroken."

Schindel said bartenders had announced last call for drinks and turned up the lights at about 1:30 a.m. An argument began outside as people started to leave, and shots rang out soon afterward, the newspaper reported.

Norfolk police identified the other person killed as Devon M. Harris, 25, of Portsmouth. Another woman had a life-threatening gunshot wound, while two more men received gunshot wounds that were not life-threatening, police said in a news release.

Jenkins father, Maurice Jenkins of Virginia Beach, told the newspaper his daughter "wasn't much of a going-out kind of person at all" but had a friend visiting the area who wanted to go out. Chicho's Pizza Backstage was next to Tidewater Community College's downtown Norfolk campus.

Sierra Jenkins got her first apartment in Virginia Beach a month ago after having lived with family, the newspaper reported.

Dozens of family members and friends gathered at Granby High School in Norfolk Sunday night for a vigil to honor Jenkins, the newspaper reported.

Some top statewide leaders mourned the deaths Saturday.

"Our hearts are breaking for the lives lost in Norfolk, including Sierra Jenkins," Gov. Glenn Youngkin tweeted. "The First Lady and I are praying for their families, friends, and the Virginian-Pilot community."

The Virginian-Pilot reported that at least 15 people had been shot — four of whom died — in shootings between Friday evening and Saturday afternoon in an area stretching from Newport News to Chesapeake and Suffolk.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.