Reporter, 25, Caught in Crossfire, Killed Leaving Virginia Restaurant

March 21, 2022 by Dan McCue
Reporter, 25, Caught in Crossfire, Killed Leaving Virginia Restaurant

WASHINGTON — A 25-year-old newspaper reporter was one of two people killed after a shooting early Saturday morning in Norfolk, Virginia.

Sierra Jenkins, who covered education for The Virginian-Pilot newspaper, was caught in the crossfire as she was leaving Chicho’s Pizza Backstage, according to restaurant manager Rory Schindel.

No arrests have been made in relation to the shooting incident that also left Devon Harris, 25, of Portsmouth, Virginia, dead, and another woman with a life-threatening gunshot wound. Two more men received non–life-threatening gunshot wounds and have already been released from the hospital.

Jenkins, who turned 25 just last week, grew up in Norfolk and graduated from Georgia State University. She worked as an intern at Atlanta magazine and CNN before joining The Pilot in December 2020.

Her father, Maurice Jenkins of Virginia Beach, Virginia, told her newspaper his daughter “wasn’t much of a going-out kind of person at all” but had a friend visiting the area who wanted to go out. 

Chicho’s Pizza Backstage was next to Tidewater Community College’s downtown Norfolk campus.

Jenkins got her first apartment in Virginia Beach a month ago after having lived with family, the newspaper reported.

“Sierra was a bright and talented woman with so much going for her,” said Kris Worrell, editor-in-chief of Virginia Media, which operates The Virginian-Pilot and several other newspapers.  

“Her passion for journalism was undeniable and our community is better because of her reporting,” Worrell said. “Sierra was funny and energetic and full of enthusiasm. We are absolutely heartbroken.”

Brian Root, her direct editor at The Pilot, told the Education Writers Association that “Sierra was passionate about the importance of journalism in general, and local journalism in particular.

“She wanted the world to be a better place when she left it, and it breaks my heart that she didn’t get nearly enough of a chance to make that happen,” Root said.

In its own tribute to Jenkins, the Education Writers Association recalled that she was a 2022 member of its New to the Beat program, which matches newer education journalists with veteran reporters who serve as mentors and coaches.

Her program mentor, Lori Higgins of Chalkbeat, recalled that “after one meeting with [Jenkins], I walked away feeling rejuvenated. She was so enthusiastic and had such a drive for journalism and this beat.”

In sending its deepest condolences to the Jenkins family, her friends and her newsroom colleagues, the association said, “While words can do little to ease the pain, we hope they will bring some comfort to those who are grieving.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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