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Lesbian couple among “heroes” gunned down trying to protect pregnant teen in mass shooting

Detra Brown (right) and Nicole Lovewine (left)
Nicole Lovewine (left) and Detra Brown (right)Photo: Screenshot/13NewsNow

The Young Terrace community in Norfolk, Virginia is in devastation after a mass shooting on November 3 left three women dead, two injured, and several children traumatized from witnessing the murders first-hand — some seeing their own mothers gunned down in broad daylight — right outside their home.

Police report that Detra R. “Dee” Brown, 42, and Nicole Lovewine, 45, who were partners, came home as Lovewine’s pregnant, 19 year-old daughter, got into an argument with her boyfriend. He pulled out a gun and shot her at approximately 6:00 pm. When Brown and Lovewine came out to help, the shooter turned the gun to them and reportedly fired at both “point-blank” in the head.

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Another women who was outside with her three children, Sa’idah E. Costine, 44, then ran to try and help them. The assailant shot her as well, leaving her dead. Another women was shot and wounded before the rampage came to an end.

Police have arrested Ziontay Palmer, 19, and charged him with the entire shooting after apprehending him hours after. He was dating Lovewine’s daughter, who is five months pregnant, and authorities believe a domestic dispute set off the violence, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

Palmer is facing three second-degree murder charges, two malicious wounding charges, and multiple firearm charges. He is being held in Norfolk General District Court without bond.

Lovewine’s sister, Tina McPherson, told the Virginian-Pilot, “That man… put a stain on this family that can never be washed — he hurt us to the core.”

A neighbor and witness told local reporter Andy Fox that there was “nothing they could do” for Brown and Lovewine. “They were shot execution-style. They had just come home from work,” the witness said.

The effect has been more than devastating to the community. Four children are without a mother, an apartment complex’s playground was scarred with blood and bullets, and countless witnesses are traumatized from yet another shooting spree in America.

“I’m a grown man with 30 years of police experience and it shook me to my core,” Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone said at a press conference following the shooting, “I can only imagine what it did to those kids.”

The Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority (NRHA), which owns the property where the victims lived and the shooting occurred, is providing grief counseling for the entire community.

Brown and Lovewine were beloved, familiar faces at 37th And Zen, a drag bar in Norfolk. “Everyone knows who they are,” bartender Burt McManus told WTKR regarding the victims.

“I can see them rushing to the scene, probably even if it wasn’t [Lovewine’s] daughter, because that’s who they were. Something’s happening, they were going to see what’s up,” McManus added.

The couple were also regulars at the Old Hershee Bar nearby. “I think they should be an example of how you should partner and how you should live your best life,” Annette Stone, owner of both bars, stated. “I think there is a trail of broken hearts.”

Lovewine was described as a “sweet girl” by another neighbor, who added, “Nicole would come and go to work. When she’d get off work she’d come straight in to the house. She never bothered nobody.”

The neighbor also said, “When you see Nicole, you saw Dee; they were always together, wherever they went. When they left out in the morning to go to work they were together when they came home from work.”

Sa’idah, also known as Sara, was remembered by her 25 year-old child Siera at a recent memorial.

“She was just perfect,” Siera recounted emotionally.

She was the mother to six children and a devout worshipper of Islam.

Both of the injured victims, including Lovewine’s daughter, are expected to survive. The three slain victims are being commemorated across the community with makeshift memorials, marches, prayer groups, and vigils.

The Norfolk community has held at least three nights of vigils following the shooting.

At a community-organized event commemorating the victims, Norfolk mayor Kenneth Alexander told the crowd, “We will be here for the duration to support and uplift them. We are a resilient city. We are a resilient city. The people of Norfolk are resilient.

“However, this really shakes the foundation of our city when precious lives,” he noted.

Lovewine’s son, Antron Lovewine, has organized a GoFundMe to bury his mother. “My mother was taken from my family by gun violence,” the fundraiser reads. It has raised $490 as of this article’s writing.

A family friend has organized a fundraiser for Detra Brown’s mother, Beverly Holloman, as well. It has raised over $400 as of this article’s writing.

Community members have also started a GoFundMe fundraiser for Costine’s family, which has raised $1,975 as of this article’s writing.

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