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Artist and producer Pharrell Williams took to social media this week to mourn the death of his cousin, Donovon Lynch, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Virginia Beach over the weekend.
Lynch, 25, died during a tumultuous weekend in the Virginia Beach area that ended with three shooting incidents that left two people dead and eight more people injured. He was killed on Friday after being shot by a police officer on 20th Street, the Virginia Beach Police said in their initial release.
In a new statement released on Monday, police said that the officer who struck and killed Lynch, as well as another officer who witnessed the shooting, claimed that he was “brandishing a handgun” prior to the shooting. A witness claimed that they’d seen Lynch with a gun earlier that day, police said. However, they have not released any other information on the circumstances of the shooting.
Taking to Instagram on Monday, Williams shared a photo of Lynch and called the death of his cousin and another woman, who had appeared on a reality TV series, a “tragedy beyond measure.”
“My cousin Donovon was killed during the shootings,” his caption continued. “He was a bright light and someone who always showed up for others. It is critical my family and the other victims’ families get the transparency, honesty and justice they deserve. Virginia Beach is the epitome of hope and tenacity and, as a community, we will get through this and come out even stronger.”
Prior to Lynch’s death, 29-year-old Deshayla Harris, who appeared on season 17 of “Bad Girls Club,” was fatally shot in an unrelated incident. She was a bystander during the second shooting of the night, according to police.
The first shooting of the weekend in Virginia Beach, which took place at around 11 p.m. on Friday night, stemmed from a physical fight that turned into an exchange of gunfire, police found in their initial investigation, according to a release from the Virginia Beach Police Public Affairs Department. Three people have been arrested in connection to that incident: Ahmon Jahree Adams, 22, Nyquez Tyyon Baker, 18, and 20-year-old Devon Maurice Dorsey, Jr. All three individuals have been charged with seven counts of felonious assault, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and reckless handling of a firearm, according to police.
While police were still managing the first crime scene, they said they heard gunshots in a nearby area which they said they believe stemmed from an unrelated incident; upon responding to the scene, officers located Harris, who died from her injuries at the scene. Authorities said that an officer who was near the scene of the second shooting then encountered an “armed citizen” – Lynch – and that encounter “resulted in a police-involved shooting,” according to their press release. Lynch died on the scene from his injuries. Eight other people were also injured over the course of the three shootings.
VBPD Chief Paul Neudigate said during a press conference Saturday that the officer who shot Lynch was wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting. However, Neudigate told reporters that it was not activated at the time. This was “for unknown reasons,” he said, adding that this will be examined as part of their investigation.
“As much as we would like to be transparent – we pride ourselves on being accountable and responsive – I do not have the answers the community is looking for in regards to this death right now,” Neudigate said. “What I can tell you is that we will continue to do our due diligence to gather all the facts.”
The VBPD initially stated that they would be conducting an investigation into the shooting; the results of that investigation will then be turned over to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, who is conducting a separate investigation into the matter. The department’s Internal Affairs Bureau will then investigate the matter.
However, Chief Neudigate announced on Tuesday that he requested Monday that the Virginia State Police take over the investigation.
The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative assignment pending the results of the investigation, police said in another press release.
Donovan Lynch’s father, Wayne Lynch, challenged police’s assertion that his son was brandishing a gun when he was fatally shot, claiming in an interview with WAVY News 10 that the gun was in his son’s pocket. The father also said that his son had a license to carry the gun, a 9mm Ruger, and that he owned a security firm.
“He was an angel to everybody that he came in contact with. That’s why there is so much outpouring of love and support and people in disbelief,” he said. “They know my family. They know we’re not like this. He didn’t have anything to do with none of that. And for them to portray him like that is wrong. It’s wrong.”
Lynch died from gunshot wounds in the torso and thigh, according to the outlet. A memorial in his honor is scheduled to take place in Virginia Beach on Pacific and 20th Street on Tuesday evening.
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