'It's a parent's worst nightmare': Norfolk Christian Schools coach reacts to death of football player Donovon Lynch after Oceanfront shootings

Donovon Lynch
Donovan Lynch.png
Posted at 10:23 AM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 18:17:27-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Coach Mike Harris is trying to swallow the death of an athlete he knows well, 25-year-old Donovon Lynch.

"He was a bigger guy - warm, friendly and engaging, and he walks with a smile and confidence," said Harris.

Lynch was one of two people killed late Friday; eight others injured in a horrific series of shootings at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.

Police said a call came in at around 11:20 p.m. regarding gunshots on Atlantic Avenue at 20th Street. Investigation has revealed that a group of people were involved in "some type of conflict" that escalated into a physical fight in which several people began shooting at each other, leaving multiple people wounded.

"As soon as I saw his face, it took me back right away to when he was a little pre-teen boy when I met him," Harris said.

Coach Harris worked alongside Lynch and his father, coaching basketball for years when Lynch attended Norfolk Christian Schools.

"He comes from a family that values like integrity," he said. "For the life of me, I can't see him being a threat."

Donovon, a former offensive lineman for UVA Wise who graduated in 2019 with a degree in Physical Education, was shot by a Virginia Beach Police officer.

Police initially called Lynch armed, stating a gun was found in the vicinity of where the incident occurred, but later Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate stated there was no evidence it was Lynch's gun. Police also said the officer who fired at Lynch didn't have his body camera activated.

"When I went on social media and saw the characterizations from people who didn't know him, it hurts your heart," said Harris. "He is not a thug looking for trouble; he was well-educated and well raised."

Harris said Lynch's family is looking for answers as to why this occurred.

"As a community, we want transparency - just the truth whatever the truth is laid out on the table," said Harris.

29-year-old Deshayla E. Harris of Norfolk died on scene. Police say Harris was a bystander of the shooting on 19th Street near Pacific Avenue.

According to an update from officials, 22-year-old Ahmon Jahree Adams of Chesapeake; 18-year-old Nyyquez Tyyon Baker of Virginia Beach; and 20-year-old Devon Maurice Dorsey Jr. of Virginia Beach were arrested in connection with the shooting on Atlantic Avenue. They have been charged with seven counts of felonious assault, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and reckless handling of a firearm.

They are being held in custody at the Virginia Beach City Jail.

Related: Virginia Beach NAACP calls for change after officer's body cam was not activated when fatally shooting man at Oceanfront