Charges sent to grand jury is Ebby's shooting

Jimmy LaRoue
Contact Reporterjlarouejr@vagazette.com

Eight charges were certified Tuesday to a grand jury in York County General District Court against a man accused of shooting an Ebby’s Auto Painting and Collision employee in July.

Michael Sean Taylor, 40, of Hampton, appeared in court to waive his right to a preliminary hearing on eight of the charges: malicious shooting into an occupied building, three charges of using a firearm in the commission of a felony, two charges of abduction by force or intimidation, malicious assault with an injured victim and the most serious, attempted first-degree murder.

One charge on the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony was dropped.

Taylor did not appear to speak while standing with his attorney, Steven Barnette, in the courtroom.

The preliminary hearing was to determine whether probable cause exists to believe Taylor had committed the crimes he is charged with. Because Taylor waived his right to a preliminary hearing, the case was sent directly to the grand jury. If the grand jury also finds probable cause on the eight charges, it will return indictments against Taylor.

The grand jury is scheduled to hear the case at 9 a.m. Feb. 1 in York County Circuit Court.

Taylor said he intended to shoot the victim, Joseph St. Clair, and hoped the victim would die, according to a criminal complaint filed in York County General District Court. Taylor was looking for St. Clair when he arrived just before 9 a.m. July 25 inside Ebby’s on 2nd Street near Merrimac Trail

Taylor entered Ebby’s to settle a dispute with St. Clair, York-Poquoson Sheriff J.D. Diggs said.

According to the complaint:

Once Taylor was inside, he approached Ebby’s employee Chaz Hall demanding to see “Joey the painter,” and he fired his handgun down into a pillar near the entrance of the building.

Taylor demanded Hall lead him to St. Clair, and Taylor threatened to kill Hall if he didn’t comply. On their way to St. Clair, they ran into Ebby’s owner Edward Hall.

Taylor forced both men into the body shop’s garage, and Taylor pointed a gun at them.

Taylor again fired his handgun, threatening to kill both men if they didn’t take him to St. Clair so he could kill him.

As Taylor reached the bay where St. Clair was working, he shot St. Clair in the abdomen, causing him to fall, and while St. Clair was on the ground, Taylor continued to shoot St. Clair, striking him multiple times.

Taylor barricaded himself inside Ebby’s for three hours before police forced themselves into the building and lobbed four rounds of gas into the store, Diggs said, ending the standoff. While inside, Taylor had spray-painted the windows black so officers could not see inside, Diggs said.

The complaint said Taylor admitted shooting St. Clair with his handgun and to waking up on the morning of July 25 with the intention of shooting St. Clair.

Following the hearing, Barnette said the next step would be to sit down with the York County Commonwealth’s Attorney to go over the evidence in the case, something that usually takes place in potential criminal trials. He had no other comment on the case.

According to the sentencing guidelines in Virginia law, Taylor could face at least 40 years in prison if convicted on all the charges.

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342, by email at jlarouejr@vagazette.com or on Twitter @jlaroue.

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