Newport News high school student says he feared for his life before parking lot shooting

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Posted at 3:37 PM, Mar 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-10 20:10:56-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - A high school student was arrested in December 2021 after the fatal shooting of another teen after a basketball gameat Menchville High School.

The game was against Woodside High School. Newport News Police previously said during the game, there was video footage showing gestures back and forth inside between people. A very large crowd exited the game into the parking lot once the game concluded, and that is when the shooting happened.

Eighteen-year-old Damari Batten is accused of shooting Justice Dunham during an altercation in the parking lot.

Officers gave first aid and CPR to Dunham, but he died from his injuries at the scene.

Batten was charged with Second-Degree Murder, Use of a Firearm in Commission of a Felony and Possession of a Firearm on School Property.

On Thursday, he was in court with his charges remaining. The case now goes to circuit court.

Details given in court included that Batten is claiming the shooting happened in self-defense. The defense said this is because he feared the other males in the fight might have grabbed for a gun.

Batten purchased the gun around his 18th birthday, and a detective with NNPD said Batten told officials he purchased it from a random person to protect himself.

In court, it was said that at the time of the shooting there were approximately 20-22 bullets in the gun and that one else had a weapon but Batten.

It was also shared on Thursday that Batten told detectives that four to five people surrounded his car that night, and Batten allegedly feared for his life.

A detective said Batten told him he didn’t believe he knew the person he shot because they were all wearing masks.

Dunham’s attorney said detectives also said that there was lack of clarity and honesty from Batten with police.

Batten is being represented by attorney James Broccoletti.

Related: Newport News community spreads message of hope following deadly shooting outside school