Virginia State Police say a man fatally shot himself while local officers chased him after a report of a fight this weekend, but some witnesses dispute officials' version of events and say they saw police aim and open fire.
Officers from the Winchester Police Department responded to the report about a fight with the possibility of a firearm involved Sunday afternoon, according to a Virginia State Police statement. Police said the officers found two people and one fled. According to the police statement, D'Londre Minifield, a 20-year-old with ties to the Richmond and Winchester areas, stopped and fired a gun as officers approached, dying from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. No officers opened fire, police said.
"I have so many questions and no answers," said his mother, Jacqueline Minifield. "I want to know how he died. I will never see my son again."
D'Londre Minifield's body was taken to the medical examiner's office for an autopsy.
After the shooting, Petersburg Police told Winchester Police they had been searching for him since September for armed robbery and assault.
State police said in the statement that their agency is investigating the incident at the request of Winchester police. State police spokesman Sgt. Frederick Tyler told The Associated Press in a phone call that he did not have details about the races of the officers involved.
Winchester police spokesman Sgt. Frank Myrtle told The AP in a phone call that no officers are on administrative leave over the incident. He said several officers were involved in the foot pursuit, but he did not know how many.
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Minifield's friends said they were taken aback to see some of the officers who responded to the fight were on duty during a protest held at police headquarters Monday.
Quay Pannell, 18, told The Winchester Star he was traveling in a car about 50 yards away.
"I saw a cop aiming a gun at him (Minifield), and the gun went off," Pannell said.
Kayla Friesen, 24, of Winchester, said she was in the car with Pannell and Minifield was about to climb a fence when police opened fire.
"Dre would not have shot himself," friend Shavon Maya said at a memorial set up at the fence where he was shot.
About 100 people gathered for Monday's protest, The Winchester Star reports. More demonstrators were expected at a protest Tuesday evening.