RICHMOND -- A brother and sister were killed in a hail of gunfire in the city's Parchester Village neighborhood Thursday night, the latest episode of violence in a city that has been lauded for curbing shootings in recent years.
Mercedes Williams, 19, and her brother Airian Holly, 16, were standing outside their home with other family members in the 4100 block of McGlothen Way when two men walked up at 9:44 p.m., Richmond police Lt. Bisa French said. Each suspect pulled out a gun and began firing, and Williams and Holly both were hit, French said.
Williams and Holly were pronounced dead at the scene, she said.
After the shootings, a vehicle pulled up nearby, and the two males shot at it, French said. Nobody in that vehicle was injured.
The shooters then jumped into a vehicle that may have been light blue, French said. Police did not have a description of the suspects.
Witnesses described hearing 12-15 shots, with two bursts of explosions about two or three seconds apart.
"I jumped out of my bed, and I asked my stepdaughter and boyfriend, 'Did you hear that?'" said Gabriella Goodman, who lives in the neighborhood. "I was frightened because my older daughter was at work. I knew whatever happened was bad."
The two were the sixth and seventh homicide victims this year in Richmond. The killings were the first in Parchester Village since December 2011, when a 46-year-old man was shot.
Three homicides have occurred in Richmond in the past 10 days.
"I am going out there today to be with the residents of Parchester," City Councilman Corky Booze said Friday morning at RichmondBUILD, where he attended a presentation at the local jobs program. "I get the sense that we are in that cycle of escalation (in violence)."
Richmond police said the latest shooting could be connected to past events.
"Detectives are looking at several potential motives based on incidents that have happened in recent days," said Capt. Mark Gagan.
Gagan said recent crimes reflect continued challenges involving local youths, both as perpetrators and victims of violent crime.
"We are seeing a trend where the victims and suspects in street-level gun crimes are younger and younger."
Little was known immediately about Williams and Holly. Neither appeared to be enrolled in the West Contra Costa Unified School District.
Holly had previously attended Pinole Valley High School, but records show that he left the district in January 2012, Gagan said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Richmond police at 510-620-6655.
Robert Rogers contributed to this story.