Not long after Nicole Lovewine and her partner, Detra Brown, arrived home from work Wednesday, they gathered outside with several neighbors in the Young Terrace Community.
It was something the couple did most evenings, especially when the weather was nice, according to a neighbor next to them.
As Lovewine, 45, and Brown, 42, talked with the other adults, about a dozen children played nearby. Some jumped on a trampoline that Lovewine had bought after a nearby recreation center shut down.
Around 6 p.m., a car pulled up and everything changed in an instant, said the neighbor, a 42-year-old woman who’s lived in the community for more than a decade. She asked not to be identified.
As the car came to a stop, a rear door opened and Lovewine’s 19-year-old daughter jumped out, the neighbor said. Next, a young man exited from the front passenger side. The gunshots came soon after.
By the time it was over, Lovewine, Brown, and another woman — 44-year-old Sara Costine — lie dead. Two others — Lovewine’s daughter and a 39-year-old woman — were injured by gunfire. Both were taken to a hospital and are expected to recover.
Lovewine’s son, who the neighbor said is 10 or 11 and was among the children playing outside, ran over to his mother’s body and lay across it.
The boy was crying, the neighbor said, and begged for his mother to get up.
A little more than four hours later, police had a suspect in custody: 19-year-old Ziontay Brian Ricardo Palmer of Virginia Beach, who reportedly was in a relationship with Lovewine’s daughter.
Palmer was charged with three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of malicious wounding and several firearm charges. He was arraigned Thursday in Norfolk General District Court and ordered held without bond. He declined an interview request from The Virginian-Pilot.
A preliminary investigation indicates the shooting was domestic-related, police said.
According to court documents, one of the malicious wounding charges and one firearm charge were filed in Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, where criminal cases involving people who are related or in relationships are handled. The rest were filed in General District Court.
A bail determination sheet in Palmer’s court file said he’d recently returned to the area, but it didn’t mention where he’d been or how long he’d been gone.
Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone said during interviews Wednesday night at the scene that four victims were shot when they came to the aid of the first victim.
Lovewine and Brown had been together for more than a decade and frequented the Hershee Bar, said Tiffany Brooks, an event planner for LGBTQ events in Hampton Roads. Brooks talked with them at a Pride event this past summer.
“They were always together,” she said.
On Thursday afternoon, Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander, state Del. Jay Jones, Boone and several other city leaders and local pastors joined residents of Young Terrace in a march through the community. Balloons, posters, candles and teddy bears lined the area where the shooting took place.
Boone — who has served as the city’s police chief since 2016 and been a member of the department since 1989 — became emotional as he talked about the tragedy. He and some of the other speakers said they were especially concerned about the children who witnessed it. Grief counselors were made available to them on Thursday.
“They probably had to walk to school (this morning) right through that,” the chief said. “It breaks my heart to look at those young kids … trying to process what they’re looking at. I’m a grown man with 30 years of police experience and it shook me to my core. I can only imagine what it did to those kids.”
Staff Writer Lyndon German contributed to this report.
Jane Harper, 757-222-5097, [email protected]
Ali Sullivan, 757-677-1974, [email protected]