Last Friday, the same day that Charlottesville police were dealing with a damaging daylight eruption of gunfire on Preston Avenue, they made an arrest in a months-earlier shooting on the same street.
Court records show that 18-year-old Zeyon Jamir Payne, named as a suspect in the May 16 shooting that shut down Preston Avenue and delayed the afternoon release of city public school students, was arrested at 5:33 p.m. on Sept. 13.
Payne has been charged with attempted malicious wounding, shooting from a vehicle and the use a firearm in a felony. Additionally, he has been charged with another felony, forceful robbery, for a more recent incident that touched off an official University of Virginia off-grounds alert. The alert noted that Charlottesville police responded to the 800 block of Cabell Avenue for a report of a robbery at 12:52 a.m. on Sept. 1.
"The victim reported being assaulted and the suspects leaving the area in an unknown direction of travel," read part of that alert. "No weapons were seen, and minor injuries have been reported."
As for the springtime incident on Preston, police received a call that 10 shots had been fired from a black Nissan on the afternoon of May 16, a police spokesman told The Daily Progress at the time.
One man was arrested two weeks later. That would be 21-year-old Kyhiem Brancardius Kier, who turned himself in and was charged with possessing a firearm as a felon. According to a police report, Kier fired multiple shots while driving a gray 2013 Acura near the intersection of Preston and Madison avenues.
"Kyhiem advised me that he shot from inside the Acura at an individual who was shooting at him from inside a black Nissan Altima," according to the report by L.G. Houchens, a city detective. "Kyhiem informed me that he shot in self-defense as a result of him fearing for his life."
The trouble started, Kier allegedly told police, when he was driving a friend to work along Cabell Avenue and passed Stewart Circle, a nine-building cul-de-sac consisting primarily of rented duplexes. At one of them, Kier alleged, "words were exchanged" and a group of people suddenly jumped into the Altima to pursue Kier.
Quickly wheeling into an apartment complex to evade the pursuing vehicle, Kier alleged, he saw to his horror a man hanging out the passenger side of the Altima and firing shots at him.
About eight minutes later, near his home on Prospect Avenue, Kier crashed the bullet-riddled Acura, and he and a passenger fled, according to the report.
Kier later relinquished to police the Glock .40 caliber handgun that he used in the shooting, according to the police report. In a recent article at snipercountry.com, a reviewer called the weapon, which fires a bullet slightly wider than 10mm, a "hand cannon."
At the time of his arrest, Kier was working as a dishwasher at the Ridley restaurant on West Main Street while facing a Waynesboro charge of providing false information to an officer. He has since been convicted on Aug. 1 on that charge.
Kier’s legal issues include an incident from early February 2022 on Interstate 64. Near the Ivy exit, a state trooper on routine patrol claimed that Kier, exceeding 90 mph, swerved into the breakdown lane to avoid arrest. Found with a 4-year-child riding unrestrained and with a plastic bag containing blocks of a white substance that he described as "baking soda," Kier was hit with an array of charges including child endangerment, drug possession and felony eluding. When it came time for a plea a year ago, most of the charges were dropped or reduced. He was convicted in July 2022 in Albemarle County General District Court of misdemeanor charges of ignoring a police officer, reckless driving and driving on a revoked license. He was given an active jail sentence of 90 days.
Kier has some experience with longer sentences. In 2019, at the age of 17, he was convicted and sentenced to 26 years in the adult system for malicious wounding, breaking and entering and robbery conspiracy. However, two years later, Albemarle Circuit Judge Cheryl Higgins waived the remainder of his sentence upon his 21st birthday, which took place in March.
A report compiled in advance of that decision showed that Kier had faced 16 prior charges in the juvenile system including two assault and battery charges, a charge of making electronic threats, a hit-and-run with injury, grand larceny, failing to stop for police and parole violations. Most of the charges were dismissed with a promise of 50 hours of community service and completion of an anger-management class after an admission that there were sufficient facts for a conviction.
Despite past allegations of an unwillingness to cooperate with the justice system, including several failure-to-appear charges and having once "absconded from his home while under electronic monitoring," Kier seems to have started cooperating with police after getting fired upon in the springtime incident on Preston. After his arrest in that shoot-out, he allegedly showed investigators some Snapchat messages that pointed to Payne as the first shooter.
"nikka that was me who did you like that," read one such message. "god was on ya side."
The messages, according to a police report, came from Payne, whose gang name is "Five."
"leave my bitch and ha family out of this," Payne allegedly wrote. "keep it inna streets."
Then living with her mother on Stewart Circle, Payne’s girlfriend reportedly would later show her devotion to Payne in the incident that, ironically, led to Payne’s capture.
Earlier this month, the girlfriend lured a man to the intersection of Stewart Circle and Cabell Ave on an offer to "smoke weed," court documents allege. Wary, the man allegedly mentioned that people have been trying to rob him.
"no I am not going to do that," Payne’s girlfriend allegedly replied by text, "but you need to keep a gun on you just in case."
Police say the man was ambushed by two men who’d been hiding and then punched from behind and robbed him of his gun.
"During the attack the suspects yelled at him to ‘give it up,’ which he believed was in reference to a gun he had in his possession," according to a written narrative by Houchens, the investigating detective.
The man later identified Payne as one of his attackers.
Payne, who is being held without bail at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, has a hearing slated for Oct. 5 in Charlottesville General District Court. Kier has a hearing at the same time and place.
Neither man has yet been afforded the opportunity to offer a plea to the charges.
As for the more recent Preston shootout on Sept. 13, Police Chief Michael Kochis said then, “Two groups were shooting at each other.” Police have not announced any suspects or arrests in that case which damaged a passing car.