The fatal shooting of an Alexandria man, apparently by an Arlington County sheriff’s deputy, was declared a homicide late Thursday based on the results of the autopsy, Alexandria police said.
The Alexandria street corner where police said 22-year-old Julian Dawkins was fatally shot early Wednesday had transformed into a makeshift memorial for the young man — a pile of stuffed teddy bears and flowers laid out to commemorate a life cut short. Friends and relatives came to the spot on Lynhaven Drive throughout the day, crying and hugging as they expressed frustration that the deputy remained free and that police had released little information about what happened.
Officials sought to reassure residents that they were investigating the case thoroughly and that the sheriff’s deputy involved was not being given preferential treatment. “This case is being investigated according to standard protocol applied to all Alexandria homicide cases,’’ the police department wrote on the agency’s Web site.
The autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said Dawkins died of a gunshot wound, but no criminal charges had been filed.
As another day passed, pressure for answers began to mount.
The executive director of a police-accountability group said he was monitoring the case closely. Alexandria councilman John T. Chapman (D) said he had asked for a phone call with the police chief to make sure the department would eventually release the facts.
Neighbors and family members, meanwhile, wondered aloud why 44-year-old Craig Patterson, the off-duty sheriff’s deputy who police say shot Dawkins, has not been charged with any crimes.
“We’re troubled,” said Kim Bragg, who identified herself as Dawkins’s aunt. “He should be behind bars.”
Police have said only that they 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 pronounced dead, police have said.
Police have said Patterson is believed to have shot Dawkins, a shuttle driver for PBS’s “NewsHour” program. Ashley Hildebrandt, an Alexandria police spokeswoman, said she could release no other details Thursday — even to respond to criticism. “There’s nothing I can say to that except that our detectives are actively investigating the case,” she said.
Efforts to reach Patterson on Thursday were unsuccessful. Officials said he has been placed on paid leave.
Bragg said she was on the phone with Dawkins when the incident occurred and her nephew went silent. A neighbor said that a short time before the shooting, she heard someone yell, “I’ll be back. You best believe I’ll be back,” to Dawkins after an argument.
Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille (D) said he had talked Thursday to Julian Dawkins’s grandfather, a personal friend, to offer condolences. “It’s just sad, and certainly everyone would like to know what happened and why,” Euille said. He said he could not discuss facts of the case but was confident that “when the investigation is concluded that justice will prevail.”
Commonwealth’s Attorney S. Randolph Sengel said the case was “being looked at like any other case would be looked at.”
Nick Beltrante, executive director of the Virginia Citizens Coalition for Police Accountability, said he was “very interested in this case” and planned to talk to family members who might have more information.
Curtis Dawkins, Julian Dawkins’s father, said Thursday that he felt the deputy acted in an “unprofessional” manner. But asked his thoughts on the Alexandria police investigation, he said only: “I have to be humble and let the detectives do their part.”
Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.