A District man was arrested yesterday in the slaying of a 66-year-old pastor who police say was shot while trying to be a "good Samaritan" and intervene in an argument at a Northeast Washington gas station last week.
Samuel Davis III, 24, was arrested without incident by the Capitol Area Regional Fugitive Task Force in the 3800 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE about 11:45 a.m., police said. He is to be arraigned today in D.C. Superior Court on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Pastor Fletcher M. Lyles.
Before dawn Friday, Lyles was heading to his job as a construction supervisor when he pulled his pickup truck into the Citgo gas station in the 3800 block of Minnesota Avenue NE for a fill up, police said.
Lyles saw some people arguing there and tried to intervene, police said. He was shot in the chest and leg about 4:40 a.m. and died about an hour later at Prince George's Hospital Center.
"Mr. Lyles was acting as a good Samaritan and was fatally shot," said Lt. David Jackson of the D.C. police violent crime unit. He said other people might also be charged in the case.
Jackson said the arrest of Davis, of the 100 block of 35th Street NE, came after members of "the community came forth and helped us."
Lyle's widow, Ethel L. Lyles, expressed relief yesterday about the arrest. She said it did not surprise her that her husband put himself in harm's way.
"That sounds just like him," she said. "He was always trying to help. That's the part that's really hard. A person who's always helping people winds up getting" killed.
Lyles said she was out of town at the time of the slaying. But she said her husband always liked to get to his construction job early because "he didn't like to rush."
Ethel Lyles said she had been married to Lyles for 31 years. Together, they had one child, Isaiah Lyles, 23. She said Lyles also had other children from previous relationships.
She said he was a bishop at the Mount Zion True Grace Church of Christ, which is housed in a small storefront building in the 2200 block of Minnesota Avenue SE, near their home in the 2000 block of T Street SE.
"He enjoyed getting in his car and riding and reading the Bible and stuff like that," she said. "Most of the time he worked, and he worked down at the church" doing construction projects.
"It's a great loss to the city, church and his family," she said.
Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.