Funeral company owner fatally shot pallbearer before burial service for 10-year-old shooting victim, police say

Police said the shooting happened about 1:20 p.m. on  June 6, 2023, at Washington National Cemetery. (WTOP/Matt Koufax)
The owner of a funeral company has been charged with murder after police say he shot and killed a pallbearer before a burial service for a 10-year-old girl at a Prince George’s County, Maryland, cemetery.

Wilson Chavis, 48, of Hughesville, has been charged with first- and second-degree murder in the shooting death of 30-year-old Ronald Steven Banks, of D.C., Prince George’s County police said in a news release Wednesday.

The shooting happened about 1:20 p.m. Tuesday at Washington National Cemetery on Suitland Road, shortly before burial services for 10-year-old Ariana Davis. The girl was struck by a stray bullet while riding home in the back seat of a car in Northeast D.C. on Mother’s Day and died several days later.

Police said Chavis owns the funeral company that was providing burial services for Davis’ family. While the service was preparing to get underway, Chavis confronted two people at the service, who worked for another funeral service company, with which Chavis apparently had a “long-standing business dispute,” police said in the news release.

According to charging documents in Prince George’s County District Court, one of the people Chavis allegedly confronted was the pastor leading the service. As mourners were preparing to gather around the gravesite, Chavis pushed the pastor and said, “This ain’t your f— funeral home,” according to the charging documents.

Police said several funeral attendees became upset with Chavis and confronted him over his behavior. At that point, according to charging documents, Chavis, who was beginning to back up, tripped over the concrete vault lid near the gravesite and fell to the ground.

That’s when police said Chavis pulled out a gun and fired two shots, striking Banks, who was serving as a pallbearer, and a woman, who suffered a graze wound.

Chavis then fled the cemetery in a vehicle before being pulled over several minutes later by an officer with the Morningside Police Department and was taken into custody.

Banks was rushed to the hospital, where he died. The woman was taken to the hospital to be treated, but her injuries were not life-threatening, police said.

During a news conference Tuesday at the cemetery, a Prince George’s County police official initially said the two people who were shot “were not directly related to the funeral of the 10-year-old girl” and that the shooting was “totally independent of that.”

Chavis is currently in the custody of the Prince George’s County Department of Corrections. Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at 301-516-2512.

WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report. 

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Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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