A Navy sailor from Indian Trail and his pregnant wife are recovering Tuesday in a Virginia hospital after they were shot multiple times while trying to buy a cellphone through an online app, media outlets are reporting.
The couple was identified by Charlotte TV station WSOC as Fred and Emily Marsian, newlyweds who moved to the Portsmouth, Va. area. They were using the online app OfferUp to buy the phone, outlets reported. The incident happened Saturday night.
Family members speculated it may have been a violent gang initiation, since money was not demanded before the shooting started, they said.
Relatives of Fred Marsian’s who live in Indian Trail spoke to the Observer’s news partner WBTV and said the couple drove to meet a seller, believed by them to be a woman, at a location in Portsmouth, Va. When they arrived at the designated site, several men met them and approached both sides of the car, reported WBTV.
“At that point when they had just walked up, they put a gun through my brother’s window,” a family member identified as Cate said.
TV station Fox61 reported six individuals appeared at the site when the couple arrived and four surrounded the car. Only one among the group fired into the car through the window, the station reported.
Emily Marsian’s parents told Fox61 the couple tried to drive away, but Frederick started screaming he couldn’t see.
Family members said Fred Marsian was hit twice, including a bullet in the side of his head and another in the side of his torso. He has lost vision in his left eye and may also lose vision in his right eye, WBTV reported. Emily Marsian was shot in the chest, but the bullet missed her heart by a few centimeters. Her unborn baby was also unharmed, WBTV reported. She is four months pregnant, media outlets reported.
Fred Marsian was able to drive down the street before his wife jumped into the driver’s seat and got to a nearby gas station, reported Charlotte TV station WSOC.
Some family members believe the motive may have been a gang initiation gone bad, according to a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for medical expenses. “Senseless violence, as nothing was taken or stolen. As it stands Fred has lost one of his eyes and is in surgery to save his other. Emily is suffering from collapsed lung, but she is in recovery and the baby is safe,” according to a statement on the GoFundMe page.
The page had raised just over $11,000 Tuesday evening. To contribute, visit www.gofundme.com/fredrick-and-emily-fund.
The couple are childhood sweethearts who got married in May, media outlets are reporting.
The Portsmouth Police Department issued a warning on Facebook on Saturday about meeting strangers to conduct transactions in that city.
“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,” said the Facebook post. “Several robberies have occurred in recent days in which citizens were lured to secluded neighborhoods away from high traffic, public areas and robbed.”
On Monday, TV station WTKR reported OfferUp released the following statement about the incident:
“Our sincerest thoughts and prayers are with Frederick, Emily, and their family. We are working diligently with the Portsmouth Police Department to support the investigation of this terrible attack. We are also continuing to work with law enforcement to provide safe, well-lit, high-traffic areas for our users to meet, such as the Community Meetup Spot at the police department at 801 Water Street. We respectfully refer all questions to the Portsmouth Police Department as they complete their important work.”