By Chelsie Meredith
On January 13 at Mi Casa, a popular Mexican restaurant and nightclub in Central Park, a local Fredericksburg resident was shot. According to police, the death was the result of gang-related violence.
For UMW students, including freshman Paul Butler, who often frequents Mi Casa, the police report was stunning news.
“I’m very surprised that there are gangs in Fredericksburg,” Butler said. “I’ve been to that restaurant, and I would never expect for there to be problems like that.”
Another first year student, Catharine Cox, said she was also concerned.
“I don’t think about gang fights happening—much less one that resulted in murder—at places that I hang out at,” she said.
Police have arrested local resident Brandon Lee Smith, 19, and charged him with first degree murder for the death of Mi Casa bouncer Dasan Kiwila Richardson. Richardson, 30, has three young children.
Smith was taken into custody January 21, being held without bond in the Rappahannock Regional Jail.
According to police, Smith had been previously scheduled to appear in Fredericksburg Circuit Court in February on charges of narcotic and marijuana distribution.
Police said Smith—known to his friends as “Bebe”—is a member of a gang called Pound Property that has been active in nearby Colonial Beach, King George and Westmoreland counties.
Natatia Bledsoe, Fredericksburg public information officer, gave an account of the Mi Casa shooting, which occurred one day before UMW students returned to campus for spring semester.
Richardson, employed by the restaurant as a bouncer for special events, had ordered Smith to leave Mi Casa because he was under legal drinking age.
Witnesses reportedly heard Smith say, “I’ll be back” as he was leaving, according to the Free Lance-Star.
Police said that minutes later Smith returned, accompanied by several friends. It is unknown if the people who came back with Smith were also gang members.
According to Bledsoe, Smith’s arrival prompted a fight between Smith, his friends, and the restaurant security workers, including Richardson.
Smith pulled out a .45 caliber gun during the fight and shot Richardson, police said. Shortly after, Richardson was pronounced dead at Mary Washington Hospital.
According to Bledsoe, Richardson’s shooting was not the first incident involving the area gang.
“Members of Pound Property have been connected to other homicides as well as narcotics distribution,” Bledsoe said in a press release.
Mary Washington students say they are relieved that police have made an arrest in the case but they are still apprehensive.
Freshman Olivia Scott expressed concern toward the arrest.
“I feel safer now that he’s been arrested,” Scott said. “But I don’t think that it was random. He shot the guy because he didn’t get his way, and that’s horrible, but it wasn’t a random act of violence. I still feel scared though. I mean, these people seem to think that if they don’t get their way, they can do something about it. What if we all started thinking that way? That’s scary.”