Virginia Beach, VA – The Virginia State Police have taken over the investigation of the officer-involved shooting of the cousin of Grammy-winning artist Pharrell Williams who was killed by a Virginia Beach police officer last Friday night.
Local activists initially claimed that 25-year-old Donovon Lynch was unarmed when he was killed by police and immediately began protesting, the New York Post reported.
But Virginia Beach police officials said officers had recovered a handgun at the scene that Lynch was allegedly seen carrying that night.
“An independent witness corroborated that Mr. Lynch was in possession of a handgun earlier on the evening of March 26,” the police department said in a statement.
On Monday night, police released pictures of the Ruger handgun and ammunition magazine that allegedly belonged to Lynch and was recovered at the scene, the New York Post reported.
The officer who shot Lynch and another officer who saw the officer-involved shooting occur “both … report that Mr. Lynch was brandishing a handgun at the time of the shooting.”
Police have not released any details related to the shooting of Lynch and have not yet identified the officer who shot him, the New York Post reported.
“The specific actions which resulted in the shooting are part of the ongoing criminal investigation,” Virginia Beach police said.
The officer has been placed on administrative leave while the officer-involved shooting is investigated per department protocol, WRIC reported.
He is African American, a five-year veteran of the police force, and a member of the Special Operations Division.
The officer-involved shooting occurred during a bizarre series of shootings that occurred in the tourist area along the Virginia Beach waterfront on Friday night.
Two people were fatally shot and eight others were wounded in a total of three separate shootings within blocks of each other within a few minutes.
The series of events began at about 11:22 p.m. on March 26 when Virginia Beach police officers on patrol in the tourist area of the resort town heard gunfire, NPR reported.
A press release from the Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) said officers arrived on the scene at Atlantic Avenue and 20th Street and found several people suffering from gunshot wounds.
The preliminary investigation showed that a group of people got into a fistfight and then several people pulled out firearms and a gunfight ensued.
Eight people were transported to area hospitals in conditions varying from “serious to life-threatening,” NPR reported.
While officers were dealing with that crime scene, they heard more gunfire nearby, according to VBPD.
Officers found a female gunshot victim in the 300-block of 19th Street near Pacific Avenue.
Virginia Beach police said the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.
While officers were handling the dead woman’s crime scene, VBPD said an officer encountered an armed citizen which led to the “individual being confronted by a uniformed Virginia Beach police officer, resulting in a police intervention shooting,” WAVY reported.
Police said Lynch was fatally shot in the 300-block of 20th Street after he brandished a weapon at a Virginia Beach police officer.
Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate initially said investigators recovered a gun “in the vicinity” of the shooting, but had not yet officially linked it to Lynch, WAVY reported.
Chief Neudigate said the officer who shot Lynch had not turned on his bodycam before the shooting “for unknown reasons.”
Virginia State Police have taken over the investigation into the officer-involved shooting at the request of the Virginia Beach police chief, WRIC reported.
Williams posted a tribute to his cousin on Instagram on March 29.
“The loss of these lives is a tragedy beyond measure,” the entertainer wrote. “My cousin Donovon was killed during the shootings. 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.”
Lynch was a graduate of University of Virginia’s College at Wise where he played football in 2017 and 2018, WRIC reported.
Virginia House Delegate Jay Jones, a Democratic candidate for state attorney general, called for the current Virginia attorney general to investigate the shooting.
“We need far better accountability and transparency, and the families of those killed by police, in Virginia Beach and across this country, deserve answers,” Jones said.
Police have identified the female gunshot victim as 28-year-old Deshayla Harris, who appeared on Season 17 of the reality TV show “Bad Girls Club,” TMZ reported.
Investigators believe Harris was caught in crossfire in the second shooting incident.