Maryland man charged with murder in connection with fatal shooting during cemetery burial

This shooting adds to an alarming trend of gun violence at funerals.

Published: June 8, 2023 12:49pm

Updated: June 8, 2023 1:16pm

A Maryland man has been charged with murder in connection with a fatal shooting at a cemetery in which a child was being buried. 

The defendant has been identified as Wilson Chavis, a funeral service director, who is being charged with first- and second-degree murder in the shooting Tuesday at Washington National Cemetery in Prince George's County.

The child who was being buried was 10-year-old Arianna Davis, who was fatally shot in Washington, D.C., on Mother's Day while riding in a car with her family, according to CBS Baltimore.

The attack Tuesday is the most recent in as series of cemetery shooting across the U.S.

A similar shooting occurred at a Washington, D.C. funeral for a homicide victim in April. And five people were shot at a funeral outside a Pittsburgh church for a gun violence victim in October 2022.

One of the victims in Tuesday's shooting, Ronald Steven, was a pallbearer who died in the hospital shortly after the shooting. And an adult woman was grazed by a bullet allegedly fired by Chavis. 

County police say the shooting of Steven was not related to Davis’ funeral. 

"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," said County Major Crimes Division Cmdr. David Blazer.

Chavis confronted two people as the service was about to begin, according to police.

The people Chavis confronted were affiliated with a separate funeral service company with which he had a "long-standing" business dispute, according to CBS News.

"Several funeral attendees became upset with Chavis and confronted him over his behavior," according to police. "The preliminary investigation suggests Chavis pulled out a gun and fired two shots, striking both victims."

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