Chesterfield County police arrested a Petersburg man early Wednesday in a shooting at Chesterfield Towne Center that critically wounded another man in the mall’s food court.
Less than nine hours after Tuesday’s 6:10 p.m. shooting, officers apprehended William Ezell Taylor Jr., 23, of the 800 block of Hinton Street in Petersburg, and charged him with aggravated malicious wounding and felony use of a firearm.
“He was leaving his residence in a vehicle and a traffic stop was conducted and he was taken into custody,” said Chesterfield police Lt. Brad Conner. The handgun used in the shooting was recovered, he added.
The victim, who is 22 and from Chesterfield, suffered life-threatening injuries after being shot during a fight with Taylor, Conner said. The gunman fled the scene after the shooting.
“We’re not 100% sure what exactly precipitated this fight,” Conner said. “Neither one of these individuals know each other.”
“We didn’t find any evidence of illegal substances or drugs at the mall nor when [Taylor] was taken into custody,” so the fight and shooting does not appear to be drug related, Conner said.
“We have not had the opportunity to talk to the victim yet; he’s still considered in critical condition,” Conner added. “So hopefully if he’s able to pull through, we’ll be able to conduct an interview with him and get his side of the story.”
Taylor was identified as a suspect after witnesses on scene provided investigators with useful information, combined with video surveillance footage at the mall, Conner said. “Through those investigative means we were able to identify a potential suspect.”
“From what we can deduce, both the victim and suspect were just at the mall shopping” prior to the fight, Conner added.
Dozens of police vehicles and several fire and emergency medical crews quickly descended on the mall after the shooting occurred. Virginia State Police also responded.
Members of Chesterfield police’s tactical unit searched the mall store-by-store to ensure there was no longer an active threat. The shopping center was cleared about 7:30 p.m.
Taylor is being held in the Chesterfield Jail without bond pending his first court appearance.
Police said they are continuing to investigate and urged anyone with information or who was in the area of the mall food court during the fight and shooting to call (804) 748-1251 or Crime Solvers at (804) 748-0660 or through the P3 app.