Julian Dawkins (center), 22, was shot by an Arlington County sheriff's deputy. Bryan Matthews, 15, on the left, and 30-year-old James Williams are seen with him. (Courtesy of Curtis Dawkins)

Julian Dawkins went to his aunt’s house in Alexandria on Tuesday night to celebrate: His cousin had just learned that she had made the Washington Mystics roster for this season. When the gathering ended, a neighbor heard Dawkins talking with, then arguing with, then chasing a man down the street.

According to police, Dawkins, 22, a shuttle driver for the “PBS NewsHour,” was fatally shot by an off-duty Arlington County sheriff’s deputy. Family members say they are still struggling to understand why.

“He was a working guy. Didn’t bother nobody,” said Curtis Dawkins, Julian Dawkins’s father. “It’s just so sad and senseless that these things had to occur.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, the deputy — 44-year-old Craig Patterson — had not been charged. Ashley Hildebrandt, an Alexandria police spokeswoman, said that detectives had interviewed him and that he was released.

Hildebrandt declined to provide details of the encounter between Patterson and Dawkins, including whether it followed some type of altercation. She said police were called to the 100 block of Lynhaven Drive about 12:45 a.m. Wednesday and arrived to find Dawkins wounded. He was taken to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, she said.

Friends erected this makeshift memorial in Alexandria at the home on Lynhaven Drive where Julian Dawkins was fatally shot by an Arlington County sheriff's deputy. (Matt Zapotosky/The Washington Post)

Hildebrandt said detectives believe Patterson to be the shooter.

Maj. Susie Doyel, the director of administration for the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, said Patterson was placed on administrative leave with pay while
internal-affairs detectives probe the incident.

Efforts to reach Patterson were unsuccessful. A copy of the sheriff’s office’s annual report shows that last year, he was named employee of the quarter. Hilde­brandt said both he and Dawkins lived in Alexandria.

Family members said Daw­kins often stayed at his aunt’s house on Lynhaven Drive, and Tuesday night, he and others had gathered there to celebrate the news that Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, Dawkins’s cousin, had made the Washington Mystics.

Gwen Pratt Miller, Dawkins’s mother, said the gathering was mellow. She said that several hours after she left, a relative called to say her son had been shot.

Miller and other family members said Dawkins was a graduate of T.C. Williams High School, where he played basketball, and he hoped to one day start his own car detailing business. Since June 2010, he had worked as a shuttle driver for the “PBS NewsHour,” authorities said. Linda Winslow, an executive producer, said in a statement that Dawkins was a “hard worker and very dedicated to the ‘NewsHour.’ ”

A neighbor who declined to give her name because she feared for her safety said she heard Dawkins talking casually with someone outside her home about 12:30 a.m. She said that the conversation soon grew louder and that someone told Dawkins, “I been around here longer than you have.” Dawkins, she said, responded, “Get off this street.”

The neighbor, 36, said she looked outside to see Dawkins — whom she knew because he had lived next to her — chasing a man down the street. After Dawkins stopped, the man yelled, “I’ll be back. You best believe I’ll be back,” the neighbor recalled.

Some time later, the neighbor said she heard a single gunshot and looked outside to see the man standing in a neighbor’s yard. Dawkins, she said, was face down, with his cellphone on the lawn nearby.

Dawkins’s relatives said police had told them little about the case. Miller said she was especially troubled that the deputy was off-duty, carrying his weapon in an area outside his jurisdiction.

“If it was some type of altercation going on and it was seeming to get out of control, you should have called Alexandria police,” Miller said.

Curtis Dawkins said he hopes Patterson will be “prosecuted to the fullest.” He said his son’s friends and relatives — dozens of whom gathered at the scene Wednesday to erect a memorial of flowers and champagne bottles — are determined to raise awareness about the case.

“This is not gonna die,” he said. “That corner’s gonna be full for a long time.”

Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.