Man killed in gun accident in York was a former James City supervisor

JAMES CITY - The 68-year-old man killed in a Dec. 19 hunting accident in lower York County once served on the James City County Board of Supervisors.

David Ware Jr. represented Stonehouse District 1977-79, according to Martha McCartney's 1992 history of James City County. Virginia Gazette archives reveal that during Ware's first year on the board he ran for higher office, challenging incumbent Democrat George Grayson for the 51st District seat in the House of Delegates. Grayson, then 39, won easily with nearly 65 percent of the vote.

For decades Ware lived and worked in upper James City County, helping operate a family owned campground and then a hardware store. He also managed the family's Colonial Towne shopping center on Route 60 in Norge.

Ware, who had retired to the Grafton area of York County, was found dead with an unfired shotgun in the marsh reeds in the 1900 block of Lakeside Drive. The York Sheriff's office said Ware was shot and killed accidentally by Brandon Bartlett, a 21-year-old man. Officials said Bartlett thought Ware was a deer. 

Neighbors told investigators that Ware was hunting a fox that had killed chickens in a nearby neighborhood. 

Sheriff Danny Diggs called Ware's death "completely avoidable" in a statement posted online the day after the shooting. "(His death) underscores the need of anyone using a firearm to follow basic safety rules that include not shooting at anything you cannot see and identify."

Reached by phone to explain the charge of second-degree murder, Diggs said “There’s different degrees of accidental.”

He explained that if someone trips with a gun in their hand and it goes off, shooting someone, that’s clearly an accident with no malice whatsoever.

“In this case, while it was accidental, it was at least reckless because the shooter never identified his target,” Diggs continued. “When you have no idea whatsoever what your intended target is, you take the responsibility legally – you have now murdered someone.”

Bartlett was charged with second-degree murder. A conviction carries up to 40 years in prison.

According to an obituary provided by his family, Ware was born in Williamsburg in 1946 and as an infant moved with his parents to the Toano area of James City. During the Vietnam War he served as an infantry lieutenant in the  Army, stationed at Fort Dix, N.J. and Watertown, N.Y. 

In addition to his roles at the family shopping center, Ware also owned a roll-off container business and a construction company. A memorial is planned for early January.

Ryan Murphy contributed to this report.

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