Christopher Cummings, Old Dominion student from Prince William, murdered
Updated: June 13, 2011 - 07:02 pm
A local politician and his family are mourning the death of Chris Cumming, Congressman Elijah Cummings' nephew, who was shot and killed in an off-campus home in Norfolk over the weekend.
Christopher was shot and killed during what police say appears to be a random break-in. His roommate, Jake Carey, was shot and critically injured.
Chris’s father James Cummings says the neighborhood where his son lived and died is riddled with break-ins, violence, and robberies.
“Knowing that in a few days that … I’m going to have to bury my son who's only 20, its just almost unbearable,” Cummings said.
Chris was a student at Old Dominion University and lived off-campus with friends and fraternity brothers.
Family members said Chris’s life was full of promise. He had just complete his junior year and had a GPA of 3.5. On his Facebook profile, he listed his uncle, Rep. Elijah Cummings, and President Barack Obama as the people who inspired him most.
“Now you know he has another job, that is to help save some people’s lives and prevent them from falling into the same kind of situation he's in,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat.
Family urges witnesses to come forward
Elijah Cummings, a longtime advocate of gun control and better witness protection, is preparing to give his nephew's eulogy.
He urged anyone with information about the shooting near Old Dominion University to contact police.
"There are people out there who know who did this, and basically what we have been concentrating on is urging people to come forward," Elijah Cummings told the Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Cummings has served in the House since 1996. His district includes a large portion of Baltimore, a city where authorities have long struggled to persuade witnesses of violent crime to step forward to help police.
"When it hits your house and it hits your family, I'll tell you, it's a lot different because I think it gives you a far better understanding of what people are feeling in those circumstances, and you can also understand the pain and the anger and the desire for closure - that is, making sure that whoever might be responsible for an incident like this is brought to justice," Cummings said.
Cummings is scheduled to deliver the eulogy for his nephew on Saturday at Victory Prayer Chapel in Baltimore.
Police have released no details about a suspect or motive in the case. University and campus police are assisting Norfolk Police in their investigation.
The crime-ridden Norfolk neighborhood where Chris lived was a source of worry for his parents. His father said the family wanted Chris to move out of the house where he lived, but Chris wanted to stay. He was “fearless to a fault,” James Cummings says.
Cummings says five weeks ago, Chris was in his room and saw two men approaching the house. One of the men tried to force his way inside, and Chris slammed the door on the potential intruder's face.
A neighbor, who was in his car, saw what happened and started chasing the intruders.
ODU president promises to step up security
Cummings says he wanted to talk with ABC7 because he hopes that by speaking with the media he'll encourage Norfolk police to increase efforts to address crime in the area near the ODU campus.
Old Dominion University President John Broderick in a letter posted Saturday on the university's website expressed his condolences and talked about campus security efforts.
"We will also continue to urge city officials and landlords on additional safety measures for the off-campus neighborhood where this and other crimes occurred this semester," Broderick wrote.
He also said that Carey was recovering in a hospital. The hospital on Monday said it would not release any information on his condition.
"We will also continue to urge city officials and landlords on additional safety measures for the off-campus neighborhood where this and other crimes occurred this semester," Broderick said. Recent crimes in the area have included several home-invasion robberies.
"I just want these criminals to get caught and I just want ODU to step up security, they haven't really done much," Ronald Possanza, a friend of Christopher, said. "There's been at least three or four robberies on this block alone in the past month."
The intruder who killed Chris also shot a roommate, who was critically injured. Police say it was thanks to Chris’ struggle with the gunman, that his roommate is still alive.
The roommates were attacked Friday morning, according to the statement from Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore. Christopher Cummings died shortly after 5 a.m. Friday at the scene, said police in Norfolk, Va.
Both were students at Old Dominion University. Christopher Cummings was a junior, studying criminal science, and had a 3.5 grade-point average. He was a member of the Theta Chi fraternity.
In a statement, Rep. Cummings, who represents Maryland's 7th District, said, "My family and I remain in shock over the news of the random shooting that took the life of my nephew, Christopher.
He urged the local community to cooperate with police, and added, “My family is grateful for the support and condolences we have received and our hearts and prayers are with Jake Carey and his family."
So far, there are no suspects in the murder. Police said this was likely a random attack.
Friends remember Chris in candlelight vigil
Cummings said he’s too overcome with grief to hate his son’s killer.
“I just don’t have room in my heart to be mad at anybody, (it was) my son's time, you know, so I just don't have room in my heart for hate,” Cummings said.
About 80 people attended a candlelight vigil organized Saturday by his fraternity in Christopher Cummings' memory. Funeral services will be held on Saturday at Victory Prayer Chapel in Baltimore.
Christopher Cummings, 20, grew up in Woodbridge and graduated from Forest Park High School in 2009. Friends say that crime had been a problem in his Norfolk neighborhood.
Friends remembered Chris, a criminal justice major, as upbeat, protective and helpful.
"I've never seen him upset, ever. Even if something was wrong, he would never say it. He was always really happy," said Jackie Antretti, a friend.
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