Florida authorities captured a Jacksonville man early Friday suspected in a shooting Thursday night that killed a Martinez man and injured his wife.
Daniel Nelson Robinson, 21, was arrested several hours after he shot William “Bill” Rountree DaVitte, 55, and injured his wife in the parking lot of Marvin United Methodist Church, police said.
“We don’t know who he was here visiting, what his business was here,” Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said.
DaVitte and his wife, Jennifer “Jenny” Wright DaVitte, 64, of Cutter Mill Road, had gone to the church on Wheeler Road at Belair Road about 10:30 p.m. to turn on the sprinkler system. The church’s pastor, the Rev. Elizabeth Ackerman, said DaVitte, a longtime Marvin member, often volunteered with the grounds maintenance.
“It’s just hard when you have someone so many people in the church have known and someone who is kind and humble and soft-spoken,” Ackerman said. “He was serving. He was doing good. It’s just hard.”
DaVitte’s wife was in the passenger seat of their 2010 Nissan Murano in the parking lot when Robinson approached her, police said.
“He tapped on the window and demanded she open the door,” Morris said. “And he started beating her with the handgun.”
DaVitte came running when he heard his wife scream and honk the horn. As he approached, police said, Robinson shot him three times. Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins said he pronounced DaVitte dead at the scene.
His wife was taken to Georgia Regents Medical Center, treated and released, Morris said.
Collins said Friday morning that he was at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab in Atlanta, where he had taken DaVitte’s body for an autopsy. Morris said Robinson drove away in the couple’s vehicle.
“One witness was nearby, heard the screams and heard the shots and saw the vehicle drive away, but did not see any additional vehicle,” Morris said, adding that officials believe Robinson was in the area on foot.
Morris said the deputies received some indication the suspect was headed to Florida and notified authorities there.
Police spotted the vehicle just before 5 a.m. near Jacksonville and pursued it, Morris said. Robinson abandoned the vehicle and ran, but was quickly captured.
Robinson, who is being held in Florida, will be extradited to Columbia County, but Morris said no firm plans have been set as to when that would occur. He was charged with motor vehicle theft, resisting arrest, fleeing or attempting to elude law enforcement, reckless driving, trespassing and driving without a license, according to Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office records.
Since 2011, Robinson has been arrested by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at least seven times.
One of the most serious incidents took place when he was 18 years old and was arrested for pulling a gun on a truck driver in traffic, according to The Florida-Times Union newspaper.
The truck driver said a man in a white Acura cut him off in traffic. When the driver yelled that’s how “accidents happen and people get hurt,” Robinson responded by pulling out a revolver and saying, “Oh, people gonna get hurt?”
Police tracked Robinson and a passenger with dogs and a police helicopter. The car, which was abandoned, had been stolen.
Records indicate Robinson was released from jail in February.