Two local police chiefs on Monday commended the efforts of officers who worked to arrest violent offenders while vowing for justice in the shooting death of a young woman over the weekend.
Charleston Police Chief Opie Smith II called a news conference Monday afternoon to discuss the work of a joint violent-crimes task force between Charleston and South Charleston.
When he opened the news conference, Smith noted the slaying of 18-year-old Laurina Blake, who was pronounced dead Saturday evening at Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital after she was shot multiple times.
“It touched our hearts, really, this young lady who lost her life,” Smith said. “Our hearts go out to the family and friends. We want the family and friends to know we’re doing everything we can to bring the person responsible to justice.”
No arrests had been made by Monday evening in Blake’s slaying.
Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin held a moment of silence for Blake at a City Council meeting Monday evening.
During the police news conference, Smith and other law enforcement officials said they identified six people who had been directly or indirectly involved in shootings during the weeks leading up to September. Charleston and South Charleston police teamed up in November to create the task force and apprehend the six suspects. So far, they have arrested four of the six.
“All of these officers, they should have your utmost respect, because they certainly have mine,” Smith said. “As you know, police work is a dangerous job, but when you are specifically looking for violent individuals, it takes it to a whole new level.”
South Charleston Police Lt. Andrew Gordon said two of the suspects, Tre Davis and Shalor Gore, were arrested between the creation of the list and the establishment of the task force. Gordon and Charleston Police Detective Anthony Thomas led the task force.
Davis had been charged with felony strangulation, and Gore was wanted for second-degree murder, Gordon said.
Members of the task force, with support from U.S. marshals, apprehended Malik Hawk, who was suspected of wanton endangerment, and Braheem Griffen, who was wanted on first-degree murder charge, Gordon said.
Officers still are pursuing the men whose names are the last two on their list, Lawrence Foye and Daniel Battle. Battle is wanted for first-degree murder in Cabell County and for attempted robbery in Kanawha County.
Authorities have a warrant for Foye for being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.
South Charleston Police Chief Brad Rinehart commended the officers for working nearly around the clock to track down and apprehend the suspects.
“I don’t think people know enough of where they went and what they had to go through,” Rinehart said. “This went on for two solid weeks. There were some tired guys coming in there, but they would put their game face on everyday — everyday — and go out there.”
In addition to U.S. marshals, Smith credited other people and agencies for their support of the task force, including Goodwin, South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens, the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.