SUFFOLK, Va. – A man who told police he accidentally shot his partner while fending off a black bear in the Great Dismal Swamp was arrested, later admitting this was a fabricated story.
The call for the incident came in around 2:45 p.m., on May 12, for a shooting that took place in the area of Jericho Ditch Road and Lynn Ditch Road.
When units arrived, they found two men: Maurice Devonte Lee, who was standing on a trail, and the other man was lying face down on the side of the trail, suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest.
The first officer on scene approached the victim to give him first aid and noticed a handgun lying on the ground near to the victim’s left hand. She then took control of the gun, while attempting to assess the victim’s injuries.
The victim laid face down with a gym bag supporting his head. There was also a bluejacket, which was folded, on the victim’s back.
The officer removed the jacket to find a single bullet hole to the upper back, surrounded by blood that had soaked through the victim’s t-shirt and into the bluejacket, documents say.
The victim was stabilized before being transported to the hospital.
When officers spoke to Lee at the scene of the shooting, documents say he told them that he and the victim were walking on the trail when he saw a black bear. Upon seeing the bear, the documents say that he claimed he started shooting at the bear and accidentally shot the victim.
After the shooting, Lee called his mother and then called 911 to report the incident.
Lee was then taken from the scene to the Suffolk Police Department for more questioning and was later arrested on an outstanding warrant from Colonial Heights, Va. and was transferred to Western Tidewater Regional Jail.
Detectives from the Suffolk Police Department went to the hospital where the victim was and interviewed him about the shooting.
Court documents say the victim stated that him and Lee had been in an ‘on and off’ domestic relationship for some time and that during their relationship, Lee had abused the victim. Documents further say that the victim had traveled from Pennsylvania to Suffolk earlier in the week with the intent to gather his belongings and meet with Lee.
Lee and the victim stayed together for a few days until May 12, when the victim was scheduled to take a bus back to Pennsylvania. Before the victim’s bus was scheduled to arrive, Lee suggested that they have a picnic by a lake in the Dismal Swamp. The victim agreed and they both left for the Great Dismal Swamp after first stopping by Lee’s mother’s house, records say.
As they were walking down the road, Lee would randomly state, “there’s black bears out here” on several occasions, documents say. The victim turned around several times asking to leave and during this time, documents say that is when Lee shot him in the upper left chest.
When the victim hit the ground, documents say that Lee flatly stated “there was a bear” to the victim.
After shooting the victim, Lee walked away and made several phone calls. Records say that the victim could only make out clearly the call Lee made to his mother during which she told Lee to turn himself in.
After Lee’s call with his mother, records say he walked back over to the victim and looked down at him, saying flatly, “Oh, you’re still breathing.” Lee then bent over, took the victim’s cell phone and threw it into the water, according to documents.
Documents state that Lee wiped off his small black handgun and placed it on the ground next to the victim’s hand and when the victim asked Lee to call an ambulance, Lee replied, “Are you going to tell on me?”
On May 13, a witness stated that around 2 p.m., on May 12, they received a call from Lee who said Lee was rambling and talking about committing suicide. Lee then hung up and did not call back, says the witness.
Also on May 13, another witness stated that on May 12, at 12 p.m., they saw Lee inside their residence and several hours later found that their 9 MM handgun was missing. This handgun is consistent with the gun used by Lee and recovered at the shooting scene, documents state.
Court documents state that Lee admitted to taking the gun from his father’s room earlier in the day, just before heading into the swamp. After being confronted with the facts of the investigation, documents say that Lee changed his version of the events and said that he lied about the bear incident. Lee then provided another statement of the events.
Lee’s new statement about the incident, according to the court documents, was that he and the victim were talking on a trail and got into a heated argument about their relationship. At some point, the victim decided that he wanted to leave and Lee tried to stop him before they began ‘tussling’. During this tussle, documents say that Lee removed the gun from his pocket from under his jacket and then it “went off”.
Documents say that in Lee’s new statement, he had asked the victim what they should do now. According to Lee, the victim told him to tell the police he shot himself. Lee disagreed with telling a lie, so the victim fabricated the bear story and Lee went along with it and told the police he was shooting at a bear, Lee stated.
When asked about the victims missing phone, Lee admitted he took it from the victim and threw it into the water because he wanted to destroy any evidence.