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Charlottesville Downtown Mall slaying victim identified, witness recalls event

Charlottesville police officials have identified the man slain early Sunday morning on the Downtown Mall as 31-year-old Davonn Jamar Wilson and details of how the killing transpired are emerging through a video and witness accounts.

Wilson was one of three people shot around 1:30 a.m. Sunday on the 200 block of West Main Street. He was shot multiple times and died at the University of Virginia Medical Center. Two female bystanders were also struck by the gunfire and sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Both are in stable condition and recovering at UVa Medical Center, police said.

"It was pandemonium," recalled one witnesss, who asked not to be named out of safety concerns.

On Sunday morning, the witness was part of a party of five inside a restaurant/bar called Lucky Blue’s at 223 W. Main Street. He said the group, including his significant other, were not paying particular attention to the party at the adjacent table.

"It was a noisy, boisterous atmosphere," explained the man, who says members of his party were having a good time after watching a concert at the Southern Cafe and Music Hall.

"We were sitting in an open booth," he said, "when we were heard this really loud noise as the table either got flipped or pushed out of the way."

One man, now identified as Wilson, began running toward the entrance.

"The other guy followed behind him and just starting firing away, right in the restaurant," said the witness. "It was like slow motion. He just pulled a gun and almost casually started firing."

A video poised in an office window directly above the street caught the events: Two shots are quickly followed by a salvo of three as pedestrians walking west toward the Charlottesville Omni Hotel recoil in terror. The bystanders run back the way they came amid the first five shots and the piercing sound of gunfire resumes apparently seven and perhaps eight additional times.

Unless reverberation from adjacent buildings distorted the audio, as many as 12 or 13 shots were fired. Virginia does not limit the legal capacity of the magazine of a handgun or limit the number of guns someone can carry.

A photograph posted to Twitter shows the remnants of the restaurant’s glass door the following morning. Once bedecked with festive Halloween images of skulls and pumpkins, an inner sheet of glass was shattered while, less than an inch away, the outer layer remained intact.

Outside, as the injured Wilson attempted to flee eastward, the gunman opened fire again, striking the two women bystanders.

The witness said that after an initial period of taking cover, the patrons of the Lucky Blue’s were led outside by bar personnel via a back entrance. After determining that police, who he said arrived quickly, had secured the area, he looked around to see if he could help.

The witness said that Wilson fell at the Downtown Mall’s Second Street automobile passage.

Anyone with information regarding the shooting is urged to contact Detective Sgt. Ron Stayments at 434-970-3939 or the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 434-977-4000.

"Community engagement is vital in addressing and preventing future acts of violence," concluded a police release.

As for the witness, it was the second time in two weeks he was close to a shooting scene on the mall. On the afternoon of Oct. 15, the man was on the mall to celebrate his 13-year-old daughters birthday with seven of her friends when shots rang out near the Omni parking lot and two teenage boys were shot.

Three teens were arrested later in the week for the shooting.

For the man, the week-earlier incident had shots ringing out a block away. One week later, shots would ring out just one table away.

Now, despite decades of coming to the Downtown Mall, the nightmare of seeing a man gunned down footsteps away has him thinking twice.

"I hate to throw the Downtown Mall under the bus," said the man, "but it’s now scary — really scary."


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