Portsmouth, VA - A Navy sailor and his pregnant wife were shot multiple times on Saturday night, while using the OfferUp app to try to buy a cell phone.
After the shooting, the family of the victims blamed the police for not warning people that the app could be used to set up robberies.
Victims Frederick and Emily, who didn't want their last name released, were married right after Frederick joined the Navy in January, according to Fox6Now.
On Saturday night, Oct. 28, Frederick used the OfferUp application and agreed to purchase a cellphone from the seller, who said she was an 18-year-old girl, according to his father Randy.
Frederick, 20, agreed to meet the girl at a home in Portsmouth where she said she was babysitting.
His wife, Emily, 18, accompanied him, and Randy said that when they arrived at the agreed-upon location, his son immediately knew something wasn't right.
"When they pulled up, six individuals [came out] and then four others surrounded the car,” Randy said.
“There was one shooter, and that one shooter is the one who approached the car and instantly started firing shots," his father said.
They tried to drive away, but Frederick started screaming that he couldn't see, according to Emily's parents.
Frederick was shot in his temple, and in his chest. The shot to his chest ricocheted into his arm.
His wife Emily, who is four months pregnant, was shot in the chest.
“They were able to save his left eye. He’ll never be able to see out of that eye again. His right eye is still questionable,” the victim’s father told WTKR.
“Emily, his wife, was also shot. Missed her heart by centimeters. Missed the baby and it went out the right side,” he said.
Now both are in the hospital recovering, after being shot on Saturday, and family members are blaming the police.
“He had the whole world ahead of him,” Frederick’s father said. “And someone just took it away in a matter of seconds.”
The couple's families said police told them there had been previous incidents involving the app, and now family members are questioning whether this incident could have been prevented.
"That's one of the things I feel the police department dropped the ball on. The public should've been made aware of this several weeks ago,” Randy said.
Portsmouth Police Captain Ken Saucer warned people using apps to buy things to use vigilance.
"If the offer looks too good to be true then it probably is,” Capt. Saucer said.
"Most of these victims are hardworking citizens. They are carrying large amounts of cash and that’s just a recipe for disaster,” he said.
The Portsmouth Police Department set up a new meeting location outside of a police station for people to conduct safe online transactions going forward.
The area is clearly marked with a green sign labeled "Meetup Spot, Internet Purchase Exchange Location,” and was donated by OfferUp, according to the sign.
Police said that the goal is to reduce risky transactions, and give the public a safer environment to conclude online business deals.
The Portsmouth Police Department posted an announcement about the safe meeting spot on their Facebook page:
"Due to a recent string of robberies resulting from citizens conducting transactions from online sites, the Portsmouth Police Department is issuing a warning to citizens to exercise extreme caution when conducting transactions outside of public areas.
Several robberies have occurred in recent days in which citizens were lured to secluded neighborhoods away from high traffic, public areas and robbed.
Online websites and apps such as Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, and OfferUp make it easy to obtain new things quickly and economically.
To reduce the risk of potential harm to the public, the Portsmouth Police Department has established an OfferUp meeting location just outside of Portsmouth Police Headquarters at 801 Water Street in Portsmouth. Partnering with OfferUp who provided the signage, the goal is to reduce risky transactions and give the public a safer environment to trade items.
The Portsmouth Police department suggests that you schedule these meetings during normal business hours Monday thru Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. A security officer is on duty during those hours at 801 Water Street and can provide assistance in case of emergency."