Suffolk man charged with assault
A Suffolk man who allegedly initially told investigators he was trying to shoot a bear but instead shot another man in the chest in the Great Dismal Swamp has been arrested and charged with assault with intent to commit murder, court documents state.
Maurice Devonte Lee, 26, was arrested this week in connection to the May 12 incident in the area of Jericho Ditch Road and Lynn Ditch Road, in the Great Dismal Swamp.
A preliminary hearing and detention hearing are scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday for U.S. District Court in Norfolk.
Around 2:45 p.m., Suffolk Police received a 911 call reporting the shooting in the Great Dismal Swamp, and when officers arrived, they found two men – one of the men Lee, standing on the trail, and another face down on the side of the trail and suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest, according to court documents.
The victim was having difficulty breathing and made no statements at the time. When the first officer at the scene approached the victim, she found a dark-colored handgun on the ground near the victim’s left hand, taking control of the firearm and continuing to assess the victim’s injuries, the documents state.
Police found the victim with a gray and green trimmed gym bag supporting his head, with a folded blue jacket on his back, according to the documents. When she removed it, she saw a single bullet hole to the upper back that was surrounded by blood that had soaked through his T-shirt and into the blue jacket, the document stated.
Lee told police at the scene that he and the victim were walking on the trail when he saw a black bear and started to shoot toward it and accidentally shot the victim, according to the documents.
After the shooting, Lee called his mother and then called 911 to report the incident, documents state, and later faced more questioning at Suffolk Police headquarters, where he waived his Miranda rights and told police that he heard the victim yell, “Bear,” and ran toward him.
Lee told investigators that he tried to shoot past the victim to hit the bear, but hit the victim instead and said the incident was an accident, according to the documents.
Following the interview, Lee was arrested on an outstanding charge from Colonial Heights and transferred to the Western Tidewater Regional Jail for processing.
Suffolk Police interviewed the victim at the hospital, and he told a different story.
The victim told police he had traveled from Pennsylvania to Suffolk to pick up his belongings and meet with Lee, according to the documents.
But before he left, Lee asked the victim to go to the Dismal Swamp for a picnic by a lake, stopping at the home of Lee’s mother, which is near the entrance, the documents state, and then they walked to Jericho Ditch Lane.
According to what the victim told Suffolk Police, Lee would randomly state the presence of black bears, and after walking for “some time,” according to the documents, the victim turned around and asked Lee if they could leave.
When the victim fell, “Lee said out loud that there was a bear, and then turned and walked away to make several phone calls, but he could only hear clearly that one of those calls Lee made was to his mother, the documents state.
“After this call, Lee walked back over to (the victim), looked down at him and said flatly, ‘Oh, you’re still breathing,’” according to the documents. “Lee bent over, took (the victim’s) cellular phone and threw it into the water.”
One witness told police the next day that she had received a call from Lee and that “he seemed out of sorts and was rambling” and another saw Lee inside the person’s residence around noon on May 12, before several hours later finding a black 9mm handgun missing, according to documents.