Shooting victim remembered as "a fine young man"

amayfield@vagazette.com
Man dies after Astronomical Pancake House shooting

Elias John Kokolis, 22, was a hard worker with a good heart, said his priest, Father Milton Gianulis.

"He was a fine young man. He was always cheerful and helpful," the priest said. "He was just a good boy."

Gianulis drove to the hospital on icy roads Friday afternoon prepared to offer last rites and Holy Communion to Kokolis who accidentally shot himself in the chest at Astronomical Pancake and Waffle House.

Kokolis died before medics could get him to the hospital. Unable to perform the final sacraments, Gianulis gathered the Kokolis family together for a brief prayer at the hospital.

Kokolis owned the Williamsburg restaurant in the 1300 block of Richmond Road. It was a job that kept him so busy that he barely had time to attend worship services at Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Gianulis said.

"They are a pretty broken up family right now," Gianulis said. "It was unexpected. There's no rhyme or reason to something like that."

Williamsburg police officers responded to the shooting at around 1:25 p.m Friday to find Kokolis with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Maj. Greg Riley said.

The only other person in the restaurant during the shooting was an employee. Based on the employee's account, police believe Kokolis was trying to clear the gun of ammunition when a single bullet struck his chest, Riley said.

"It's not the most usual place where we find self-inflicted wounds," said Riley, adding that police don't have any reason to suspect foul play.

"We were told the victim was handling a firearm and didn't have a lot of experience with one," Riley said.

The state medical examiner's office in Richmond will determine the cause of Kokolis' death. Police are continuing to investigate, Riley said.

Kokolis' family and friends took to social media to express their grief.

"Rest in peace, you will be missed by so many. You were always such a sweet and caring guy, I can't thank you enough for being my friend and lending an ear whenever I needed one," Alejandra Escobar wrote on Facebook.

Kokolis had a twin brother, Adoni, and three older brothers Marinos, Giorgos and Nikolaos. He is survived by his parents, John and Pinilopi Kokolis, as well as nieces and nephews and his girlfriend, Lauren Ashley Stacks. A memorial for Kokolis will be held at Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28. A funeral service will be held at the church at noon on Friday, Jan. 29.

"He was just a good guy. He was very kind," Gianulis said. "He had a good heart."

Michele Canty and Austin Bogues contributed to this story.

Mayfield can be reached at 298-5828

Copyright © 2017, The Virginia Gazette
77°