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Downtown shooting scattered bystanders, witnesses said

Brandon Joyner

A photo from Facebook shows Brandon Joyner, killed Sunday in a shooting involving Greenville Police Department officers.

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

More details emerged Monday about a fight and officer-involved shooting that killed a 24-year-old Greenville man Sunday morning and sent people scrambling for their lives in downtown Greenville.

According to several witnesses, a large group of people was involved in a verbal altercation that spilled into in an alleyway that runs from Reade Street to Contanche Street parallel to Fifth Street about 1:30 a.m. The group began fighting and at some point in the melee shots were fired.

Greenville Police Department officers responded in seconds and shot and killed the person the department said was shooting, witnesses said. Two others also were wounded, though it remained unclear Monday who shot them.

Authorities also had not released the identity of who was shot, but social media posts indicated Brandon Joyner is the man who was pronounced dead on the scene. The N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on Monday confirmed it had Joyner’s body and indicated he had been involved in the shootout.

Three officers shot a gunman they observed shooting into a crowd of people fighting each other in the alleyway, the department reported Sunday. 

As shots rang out, one witness said people ran for their lives, ducking for cover under tables, and fleeing to nearby businesses to find refuge from the chaos. 

Area business owners opened their doors and assisted police with crowd control issues as some people were trying to see what was going on.

Another witness said police responded quickly and professionally and that members of the public helped each other escape to safety.

Most witnesses interviewed by The Daily Reflector asked the paper to withhold their names.

Restaurant owner Brett Oliverio said Monday that he reviewed surveillance footage from cameras at his business, Sup Dogs, and could see people running and screaming as officers swooped in and engaged the gunman. 

“I'm pretty amazed by the courage of the Greenville police officers to run towards the gunfire while everyone else ran away,” Oliverio said. 

Oliverio added that he wants customers to know that downtown is safe. 

“Downtown is a safe place to eat, drink and hang out,” Oliverio said. “This is an incredibly unfortunate tragedy and I feel for the young man who lost his life and for his family to have to go through something like this. Before this, we had such an awesome weekend and the vibe of downtown was great. ECU beat UNC and families were enjoying a nice night out.”

Shortly after the shooting, Greenville police held a brief news conference regarding the incident. 

“This is a very difficult situation for any community to go through, for a police department to go through and is certainly not something you want to see in your downtown,” Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman said. “The police officers responded to their training, and this was an active shooter situation for us. The incident happened in a matter of seconds.”

Two bystanders were shot in their lower extremities during the incident, the department reported. Both were transported to Vidant Medical Center for treatment.

One of them was in serious condition and the other suffered minor injuries, Holtzman said on Sunday. Updates were not available on Monday. 

Holtzman has requested the SBI to conduct the primary investigation into the shooting. The Greenville Police Department also will conduct an internal investigation.

Three officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.

Greenville police officials confirmed Monday that a weapon was recovered at the scene but would not elaborate further citing the case had been turned over to the State Bureau of Investigation. 

SBI spokeswoman Patty McQuillan would not answer specific questions about the incident, including who was shot, if police body cameras captured the incident, whether or not gun residue tests were performed and if shell casings were found on the scene.

“The SBI will complete its investigation and turn the report over to the district attorney,” McQuillan said. “The DA decides whether to release the information in the SBI’s report or not.”  

The Greenville Police Department and the SBI are expected to release the name of the shooter and the two victims injured sometime Tuesday.

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com and 329-9566.

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