A man was arrested and charged after allegedly shooting five women in a domestic-related incident in Norfolk, Virginia
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A Virginia community has been left grief-stricken following a shooting that killed three women and injured two others, police say.

On Wednesday, officials with the Norfolk Police Department responded to reports of a shooting on the 800 block of Whitaker Lane shortly after 6 p.m, according to a press release.

When officers arrived, the suspect — who was known by police and identified as Ziontay B.R. Palmer, 19 — allegedly fled the scene, WTKR reports.

Police said in a release that three women — Detra R. Brown, 42, Nicole Lovewine, 45, and Sara E. Costine, 44, —were pronounced dead at the scene and two other women, age 39 and 19, were taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds. Both women are expected to recover.

According to the Norfolk Police Department, the shooting was domestic-related and Palmer was taken into custody around 10:25 p.m. 

Palmer was charged with three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of malicious wounding, and five counts of use of a firearm. He is being held without bond in the Norfolk County Jail, according to police.

Ziontay B. R. Palmer
Credit: Norfolk Police Department

Following the incident, Police Chief Larry Boone, who was visibly emotional, called Palmer a "coward" in an interview with WAVY.

"The suspect shot one victim and as the community was trying to render aid, the coward shoots them," he told the outlet.

"This has to stop. We need to start speaking up because this, I've never seen this in my 30-year career: five women shot," Boone added. "This nonsense has to stop and this idea that everybody can be saved, that's gone by the way of the dodo bird."

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Montezuma Pride, the cousin of one of the victims, told WTKR that she was a mother, describing her as a "strong, kind woman."

"She didn't bother anybody." he told the outlet. "We're just trying to figure out why. Why does this happen in this community? Innocent people? Three women? This has to stop."

The shooting is still under investigation.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.