Parkway terror: Radio personality in critical condition after shooting

news-parkwayshooting-rockpointoverlook-insetThe friends had stopped for views from Rock Point Overlook.
FLICKR/AZZ. INSET: FACEBOOK PHOTO AND FLICKR/STINKY GRINCH-GREG GUTIERREZ

What was supposed to be an idyllic sunset excursion turned to horror for a Charlottesville man well known to listeners of WNRN radio and an 18-year-old female friend.

The pair–- Tim Davis, 27, also known as DJ Prolapse and host of the Boombox hip-hop show, and a Fluvanna County High School senior who used to volunteer at the station–- had gone to the Blue Ridge Parkway to watch the sunset on Monday, April 5, when they were attacked by a shotgun-wielding man at Rock Point Overlook at approximately 7:30pm.

news-parkwayshootingThe site of the shooting lies about four miles south of Humpback Rocks and 10 miles south of Rockfish Gap.
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Augusta County Sheriff Randy Fisher, who is leading the investigation, has asked the media not to name the woman because the gunman remains on the loose and may wish to harm the best witness of her attacker, even though the attacks appear random.

The victim's brother, Scotty, says the attack on his sister and her friend was sudden and unexpected.

"She looked at [Davis], and there was blood on his face," he says. "He was groaning."

The gunman then exited the car and approached his victims. Scotty says his sister–- though wounded by a shotgun blast–- scratched the gunman and tore at his shirt with such tenacity that she broke some fingers, before he pushed her over the embankment and began to hurl rocks down upon her.

"She ducked down and pretended to be dead," says her brother in a telephone interview conducted on Tuesday, April 6, minutes after he'd finished visiting with his older sister in her hospital room at UVA Medical Center, where she was recovering from two skull fractures and a collapsed lung.

The shooter having stopped his rampage, Scotty says, his sister climbed back up and, screaming, flagged down a vehicle driven by a husband and wife, who called 911. As they raced away to find rescuers at the Parkway's Afton Mountain intersection, according to Sheriff Fisher, the drivers of that vehicle–- a Chevrolet Silverado pick-up–- believed the shooter fired as they sped northward, but no signs of shots were found when investigators examined the vehicle.

Davis' rescue took longer. Like his female friend, he, too, was shot in the back–- perhaps by a single blast, says the sheriff–- and then tumbled over the edge of the overlook.

"He was between 100 and 200 feet down," says Curtis Sheets, chief of Wintergreen Fire and Rescue, who reached Davis around 8:15pm–- approximately 45 minutes after the shooting. The terrain, says Sheets, is rocky with sharp drop-offs and steep slopes, much of it covered in thick brush.

When rescuers finally reached Davis, Sheets says, they found him unresponsive with injuries, in addition to his gunshot wounds, apparently sustained from the fall. Rescuers placed Davis in a basket and carried him back up to the Parkway, Sheets says. He was airlifted to UVA Hospital where he remained in critical condition on Tuesday, April 6. Sheriff Fisher says Davis has been unable to give a statement.

Sheets says the steep terrain wasn't the only difficult part of the rescue; knowing that a gunman was on the loose was frightening.

"I was definitely uneasy," Sheets recalls, noting the presence of 29 police vehicles from various jurisdictions offered some comfort.

The FBI has reportedly joined the Augusta Sheriff's Department, the National Park Service, Virginia State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in the manhunt for the shooter, who is described by law enforcement as between 50 and 60 years old, of medium build, with gray hair. He was reportedly driving a red car, possibly a Ford Taurus.

Back in Charlottesville, those who knew the pair are in shock.

"He's a lot of fun, an affable guy," says Davis' boss, WNRN founder Mike Friend, describing Davis–- who sometimes uses a wheelchair to deal with his muscular dystrophy–- as "always willing to help."

The young woman is "very nice and peaceful," says brother Scotty. "She has no enemies."

DJ Prolapse on the WNRN Boombox from Andrew Finein on Vimeo.

Although just a small parking lot nestled beside the Parkway in Augusta County, Rock Point Overlook, at an elevation of 3,115 feet, has a distinctively large boulder and offers western views that would have provided attractive sunset viewing on the fateful Monday evening.

The Augusta County Sheriff's Office issued a press release mid-morning Tuesday indicating that the victims had been in a green Honda (a Civic belonging to the female victim), which was recovered (along with a wheelchair) at the overlook.

In recent years, Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains have suffered a spate of horrific incidents. In 1996, two young women were killed at their campsite near Skyline Drive in a still-unsolved killing. More recently, 22-year-old UVA graduate student Lizzy Hafter was slain at the nearby Greenstone Overlook in a senseless-but-solved 2008 property crime. And just this past August, two Virginia Tech students were inexplicably murdered at a Jefferson National Forest campground.

Five days before this Parkway shooting, the Washington Post published a story noting that the so-called Colonial Parkway murders from the late 1980s are getting a reexamination by investigators. Authorities have not publicly drawn any connections between these cases, or the sensational Morgan Harrington murder and Route 29 Stalker cases, but for lovers of the great outdoors, an arrest can't come too soon.

Anyone with tips is urged to call Central Shenandoah Crime Stoppers at 800-332-2017 or the Augusta County Sheriff's Office at 540-245-5333.

Clarification: Flickr credit of Tim Davis photo was omitted in original post.

39 comments

I second the motion, arm yourself

I hope they catch this man. My prayers are with the victims as they recover.

There are many ways of arming yourself. Your protection and the protection of our loved ones should be first priority. And your right Gasbag, the cops can only do so much, and that is after something has happened. This world is only getting more dangerous. But there are simple and effective ways we can protect ourselves. Stun guns, tazers, pepper sprays, mace, personal alarms, etc. I am doing my part by making the public aware that there are real, safe steps we can take to protect our kids, our selves, our loved ones. I have been working on getting a retail location for my business, High-Tek Security, here in Charlottesville. Email highteksecurity@gmail.com and I will email you 2 PDF format catalogs. One for personal protection and one for home/business surveilence. All items are perfectly legal in the state of VA and require no permit to carry. Here is to our safety.

Okay if it makes anyone feel better, pay attention to your surroundings while arming yourself

Jeff, I have to disagree with you. The public wants more information,
but doesn't need more. Aside from satisfying curiosity, what do you really
think the public can provide? Divulging the details could potentially ward off the assailant, and make his capture that much more difficult. Anyone that was there or was in the area and may have seen something
has already contacted the police, and if not, will be shortly due to the press releases.

Way to capitalize on a tragedy, Scott. How would anything you sell have prevented this incident?

Jeff, you can help stop this foolishness. Arm yourself. Tells your friends and family to arm themselves. The laws on carrying firearms in national parklands have recently changed. This so called "gun crontrol" and anti-gun agenda nationwide has put decent law abiding citizens in danger for far too long. The cops can no longer protect you. They respond after the fact and clean up the mess.

Is that the young woman's picture in the lead photograph? It seems that photo, together with the identifying information(automobile, age, high school, former worker at station) would give the suspect all he needs to find her.

Carrying a gun is addictive. Prove me wrong, put it away for a day and see how you feel...

I pray this isn't over a political bumper sticker. I also hope these two recuperate. What is going on in the world today?!? Sheesh.

Yes, Gasbag. I'm sure in a different world, a utopia where we're all packing heat, the deranged killer would have rationally and contemplatively asked himself, "Should I shoot these unsuspecting people in the back? They might return fire...."

Jesus Christ.

Brave enough to arm yourself but lack the balls to hijack other people's tragedies under your own name, huh?

GoshenLover, I didn't say the solution was going to be quick and simple. But once criminals learn that more and more people in this society are arming themselves, the better your odds at not even becoming a victim in the first place.

Events such as this are exactly why the federal government has recently eased restrictions on firearms in public parklands.

Using your theory, perhaps cops shouldn't be carrying guns? Their gun can be turned on them if wrestled away from them. Even worse, once their gun is wrestled away from and used on them, the gun could then be futher used to shoot whoever called the police in the frst place.

When the DC sniper was attacking they released everything and the public started looking for a white box truck.... the FBI IGNORED an eyewitness that described the assialant and his car....

It caused people to die. The answer is to release pertinent info, especially about time and location. This allows people to think of the nut jobs they know and put two and two together. Odds are this LOSER was po'd all day and someone close to him at least suspects.

GSOE ... the mainstream gun control lobby (Brady Foundation/ Handgun control) does NOT want to take away guns from any law abiding citizen, they simply want background checks and record keeping so that when YOUR gun kills someone they can ask YOU if you know who used it. This in neither unreasonable or unconstitutional.

In each of these cases, the public needs much more information than what law enforcement provides. Everyone wants these incidents stopped. Let us help to stop them. We may know something, we may not. Stop treating these cases like nuclear secrets.

Jeanne, eyewitness identification of cars and suspects are very unreliable. Maybe it was a Taurus, maybe not. Maybe the supect was 50 to 60 years old, maybe not.

One of the best books out there on this subject is "Eyewitness Identification", by Elizabeth Loftus. It's a must read for anybody interested in the criminal Justice system.

I am a firm believer that criminals walk away never to be seen again, because the cop shoppes aren't even looking for the right person based on unreliable eyewitness accounts and descriptions of said persons.

Our local TV channel 16/19 (Newsplex) did a special report on this subject a few years back. They staged a strong arm robbery of a young couple walking down the street. At the conclusion of this strong arm robbery, the boy and girl gave totally differing descriptions of their assailants.

In another well publicized local case, a man who had served as a cop for two years in the early 80s picked a 50+ year old white male with gray hair out of a photo lineup... after describing the suspect as a 20 year old hispanic male with black hair. Can you imagine how many innocent people would have gone to jail if this man had served as a cop for 30 years in Virginia?

Smart cops take eyewitness descriptions of cars and suspects with a grain of salt. The others end up getting sued for false arrests.

Pray for Tim please... in his hour of need, i only hope you that are reading this can take a moment, and say a prayer...

the song at 6:45 is very touching, as you can tell prolapse enjoyed this song very much. i know ill be playing "the game ft lil wayne-my life" whenever i can until he recovers. GET WELL SOON PROLAPSE!

If the police have asked tha the young people's names not be given out then I find it such that the press venues should have honored such...and some have...but, this article did not. This story could have been fully written without these details of the victims being given until the police gave a go ahead. It might have been helpful to have included a photo of a Ford Taurus to help folks keep a watch out for that style of vehicle?

You got that right, Kelli's mom! For the couple who stopped it must have been like one of these horror movies you see on television. Every curve in the road they had to wonder what was going to happen next. Their lives have been changed forever most likely. The disorders one suffers after something like this are too numerous to list.

He's dead now. It's so effed up.

Guns are not the answer. As someone who knows Tim personally it's really disrespectful to see people trying to turn this into a political issue. It was a random act of violence, and even if they were armed, there was nothing they could have done to prevent them from being hurt. I just asked that everyone hope for the best, since that is all we CAN do right now.

i know! if ONLY these two had been armed THEY NEVER WOULD HAVE BEEN SHOT! guns are MAGIC!

Anyone else notice that the shooter was not identified as being white? Had he been black or Hispanic, I bet it would have been mentioned.

I agree. Even if they were armed, it couldn't have helped them in the situation they were in. This story is to be informative and to keep the public up to date with the victims. It is not a forum for discussion in an off-subject political issue. Make your own forum for that, please.
Tim is my best friend and helped me through a lot. I pray to whoever is up there to help him and his friend recuperate and recover.

I think the shooter can find them in the hospital backwoods so no secret there.

As far as carrying a gun to protect one self. None of us were there to know exactly how things went down but being shot in the back renders your gun useless. This is an act by a loonie and totally unpredictable.

er, sorry, gun debate. Not drug debate. GUN debate.Typing with toddler.

I'm not really sure why every single random act of violence turns into a drug debate. The truth of the matter is that if the assailant had had a knife or some other weapon or had simply attacked them both and pushed them over the edge (as what eventually happened) the lives of the two young people will never ever be the same. People's personal tragedies are not always the time to pontificate. Right now, the victims in this terrible even are still trying to recover and likely trying to figure out why this happened to them. The kindest response is generally the best response and any response infused with self-interest be it personal or political is certainly not the kindest.
Now, I've said what I have to say. And I've read what everyone else has said previously so I will not be back to argue about how right I am because I don't need to.
My thoughts and prayers are with the two young people, their loved ones, the assailant and his loved ones, as well. God bless and keep them all, with those having been wronged finding health and peace and the man who committed this terrible violent act remembering that he is, in fact, a human being. May their be peace in his soul and may the weight of what he has done be fully realized so he can try to amend a situation that cannot be amended. I would hate him if I could, but as terrible as my life has been, I have never been in so desperate a dark and lonely and isolated place that I've been motivated to harm another human being. And for the victims, know that you did nothing wrong. You merely crossed paths with a dangerous person, who, for whatever reason, took his personal pain out on you. It was wrong. And I am so terribly sorry.

Guns n Sunsets. Sounds so relaxing. Shot in back and falling 150 ft over a cliff. You nutwings are ranting about the right to bear arms? None of you braggarts actually have a license to own a gun if the state did the required mental health background check.

Give Tim some dignity fgs.

The girl doesn't need a gun. She is packing estrogen. Kicked ass and took that sadistic freak down.

Vaild points are given. One can have several eye witnesses to anything with each version being a "tad" bit different for a variety of reasons.

Thanks for a good article. We live up here, it is nice to know what happened. I'm amazed at the amount of time NBC29 and other media outlets that have been camped out up here have spent on this ---- and not one of them took the time to get a first hand or second hand interview done.

The more mainstream the less information there is. Keep up the great reporting - since others have forgotten how.

First of all, Gasbag, let me refer you to this sentence: "Like his female friend, he, too, was shot in the back� perhaps by a single blast, says the sheriff� and then tumbled over the edge of the overlook." If they were shot in the back, being armed would have been of no help. Also, the problem with guns is they offer a false sense of security and can always been turned against you if wrested from your control.

Second, I am SO IMPRESSED with that young woman! She fought back, and it sounds like she scratched the attacker deeply enough to make him more identifiable to police. She also kept her head and flagged down a car. Wow. I admire her.

Make that "be turned against you" (not "been").

There will be DNA under the nails of the young woman who heroically fought off her attacker. This will be very helpful in finding the shooter. Hook reporters could do us all a service by finding out from law enforecement officials OR the brother, where on the attackers body she scratched him, publish same; then we can all look for a "white" 50-to-60 year old man with long gray-to-white thinning hair with scratches! Scratches on his arms/face/neck...wherever. Come on folks, how hard can this be?

Ronda dear, the regular participants here know who I am. The people you should be concerned with are those who never use the same user name twice.

And yes, if I see 2 or 3 people sitting around a campfire in a federal parkland, I would be extremely worried about one of them being able to return fire if I ambushed them.... if more and more had started arming themselves. That's the problem, criminals know that 99.5% of the population are unarmed sitting ducks.

While I don't dispute the idea of people being better prepared to defend themselves, whatever the means, at the same time I don't see how it would have helped these two in their particular situation. What some people are suggesting here is just not feasible. You would literally have to be armed 24/7 and be "on" ready to draw and fire at a moment's notice. Who goes to a scenic overlook at sunset for some quality time.....while packing heat, looking over their shoulder and ready to rumble? Seriously, who lives like that, in that sort of mentality 24/7? Nobody. All the guns in the world don't mean a thing unless you're literally living in a state of being "on," 24/7.

Gasbag, that's quite a leap of logic you make. Might I point out that most private citizens who buy guns don't undergo the extensive training required of cops in order to carry firearms?

You may point it out, but it does not make it true. I never had "extensive training" in almost 3 decades of service. Most cop shoppes require that a cop qualify once or twice a year. And there might be a firearms retention class or defensive tactics class tossed in once in a while.

Having been required to attend the same police academy, the same training and the same in-service training every two years, like all local cops, I can tell you the existence of "extensive training" is a big myth in most cases.

But moving on, looks like the reliability of eyewitness identification rears it's ugly head again. The cop shoppes and public were watching out for a red Ford Taurus. Turns out it was "a burgundy or purple Kia Spectra", Augusta County Sheriff Fisher's words. It might just be me, but I don't see how a much smaller car like a Kia Spectra could be confused with a larger mid sized Ford Taurus.

like Goshenlover said,

i too am very impressed by this young woman!
way to save not only her live, but Tim's too.
nothing less than amazing!

the couple driving by must have been FREAKED out.
thank goodness they called 911.

i hope they are able to tie this whacko to some of the other crimes from this same area. While i dont think this will be related to Morgan's murder, i bet this is not the first time this guy has attacked random couples. what a sicko.