PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, Md. – The owner of a Maryland funeral service company has been charged with murder following the shooting death of a pallbearer during a burial service at a cemetery on Tuesday. He was also charged with attempted murder as a second victim was grazed by gunfire during the shooting, police said.
Wilson Chavis, 48, was identified as the homicide suspect who was charged with the shooting death of Ronald Steven, 30, and the injury of a second unnamed female victim. The confrontation and subsequent shooting took place during a graveside service for 10-year-old Arianna Davis who died in a traffic collision on Mother’s Day, the Daily Caller reported.
Even though Chavis owned the company that was providing the funeral and burial services for Davis, and Steven was serving as pallbearer for the service, law enforcement authorities said the motivation for the shooting was “unrelated” to the funeral itself.
“We believe that this was a dispute totally unrelated to what was going on with the funeral, the circumstances leading up to the funeral, the circumstances to the investigation in D.C., this was totally independent of that,” Prince George’s County Major Crimes Division Commander David Blazer said, according to the news outlet.
The Prince George’s County Police Department provided the following overview:
The preliminary investigation revealed Chavis owns the funeral service company that was providing funeral and burial services for a young child who was being buried at the cemetery. While the burial service was preparing to get underway, Chavis confronted two people at the service. Those individuals are affiliated with a second funeral service company with which Chavis has a long-standing business dispute. Several funeral attendees became upset with Chavis and confronted him over his behavior. The preliminary investigation suggests Chavis pulled out a gun and fired two shots, striking both victims. He then fled the cemetery in his vehicle. Several minutes later, an officer with the Morningside Police Department observed Chavis and conducted a traffic stop. He was taken into custody.
Consequently, Chavis was charged with first and second-degree murder, attempted first and second-degree murder, and related charges, according to police. He was placed in the custody of the Department of Corrections.