When a Virginia newspaper planned to have their reporter cover a fatal shooting incident in Norfolk, they were devastated to learn she was one of the victims.
Sierra Jenkins, who reported on education for The Virginian-Pilot, was one of the two victims who was shot and killed outside Chicho's Pizza Backstage next to Tidewater Community College's downtown Norfolk campus.
The 25-year had just celebrated her birthday on March 13.
She died at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital after the shooting.
You can watch a news report, here.
When the editor of the newspaper learned of Saturday's shooting, he tried contacting Jenkins multiple times to send her to the scene without knowing she was a victim of the violence.
Jenkins's family said she was at Chicho's with her best friend when an altercation occurred outside as the restaurant was closing around 1:30 a.m.
According to restaurant manager Rory Schindel, she was leaving the restaurant when gunshots broke out, and she was caught in the crossfire.
Jenkins grew up in Norfolk and graduated from Georgia State University.
She had interned at Atlanta Magazine and CNN before she joined The Virginian-Pilot in December 2020.
Kris Worrell, editor-in-chief of Virginia Media, which operates the Virginian-Pilot and several other newspapers, said:
"Sierra was a bright and talented woman with so much going for her. Her passion for journalism was undeniable and our community is better because of her reporting."
"Sierra was funny and energetic and full of enthusiasm. We are absolutely heartbroken."
Demmi Nimer, a close friend who was with Jenkins when the shots were fired, said she was "devastated."
"I was with her when everything happened and just wish I could've done more to help her," she said.
The other victim was 25-year-old Devon Harris, a Portsmouth resident who was pronounced dead at the scene.
A press release reported another woman sustained life-threatening injuries. Two other men suffered gunshot wounds that were not life-threatening.
No arrests were made in the tragic incident.
Close friends and family attended a vigil held for Jenkins at Granby High School in Norfolk Sunday night.
Some statewide leaders offered their condolences, including Governor Glenn Youngkin, who tweeted:
"Our hearts are breaking for the lives lost in Norfolk, including Sierra Jenkins."
"The First Lady and I are praying for their families, friends, and the Virginian-Pilot community."
The Virginian-Pilot reported at least 15 people had been shot—four of whom died—from Friday evening to Saturday afternoon in an area spanning from Newport News to Chesapeake and Suffolk.
According to the New York Times, the deadly incident in Norfolk was one of nine mass shootings in the U.S. over the weekend–indicating a disturbing trend in gun violence that has surged since the COVID-19 pandemic began two years ago.
A mass shooting is defined as an event in which at least four people are shot.
On Saturday, one occurred at an annual car show in Dumas, Arkansas, that killed one person and injured 27–making it the largest mass shooting incident in state history.
Another shooting broke out in Austin, Texas in which four people suffered gunshot wounds during the final weekend of the SXSW festival.