By Shawn Nowlin, email@example.com
On November 9, 2020, the City of Salem endured its first homicide of the year. Bedford resident Rico Turner, 27, was inside the Lakeside Kroger parking lot that fateful Monday with his fiancé Emily Christian and children when his life came to an end after getting struck by gunfire.
The suspect, Zane Chandler Christian, 26, is the estranged husband of Franklin. According to prior court proceedings, the shooting occurred during a planned custody exchange of two young children, three and four, that Christian shared with his ex. Originally charged by Salem Police with Reckless Handling of a Firearm, Malicious Wounding and three counts of Child Neglect, Zane later was charged with Felony Murder.
The black BMW that Zane was driving at the time of the shooting was later found at the scene of a carjacking in Blacksburg. The next day, he was apprehended in Ravenswood, West Virginia.
“Whenever a case stretches across several jurisdictions and in this case into another state, it takes a team effort to bring a suspect into custody,” Salem Police Chief Mike Crawley said at the time. “We greatly appreciate the assistance the Virginia State Police, Roanoke County Police, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service provided to make sure Zane Christian was taken into custody.”
On Wednesday, October 13, Zane appeared in court and pled no contest to second-degree murder. During an earlier preliminary hearing, security footage played showed that Turner got out of the vehicle and pushed Zane who responded by charging him with an apparent handgun. Approximately 95 seconds was how long the entire altercation lasted.
Witnesses on the scene said everything happened within a flash. Explained one male who asked for anonymity, “I was parked maybe 100 feet away. I just remember hearing two men arguing and one of them screaming after what sounded like a gun shot.”
Wrote Mary Brookman on social media after news of the shooting became public, “Rico Turner was senselessly murdered in front of his family. He leaves behind a fiance, a son, a baby on the way and his fiance’s two children. They need a lot of support and love right now.” Added Pam English, “These violent shootings are so senseless and such a waste of one’s life. This young man did not deserve this, prayers for his family as they lay him to rest. May they have peace and love in their hearts.”
Emmalee Flint, a longtime friend of Emily, organized a GoFundMe page days after the shooting. Within a few weeks, more than 200 donors collectively raised the $10,000 intended goal.
At a recent proceeding, no commitments about Zane’s sentence were included. On Thursday, January 27, the court will consider sentencing during a separate hearing.