York County shooting victim died five days before 23rd birthday

amayfield@vagazette.com

YORK COUNTY — The man killed Monday evening in a York Terrace shooting was just five days short of his 23rd birthday, according to friends who are now mourning his death.

The victim, Peter Girvan, lived in James City County, and investigators are piecing together what he was doing along Wilkins Drive the night of his death, York-Poquoson Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Dennis Ivey said.

Girvan was shot in the street just after 10 p.m. in the 1100 block of Wilkins Drive, according to police.

Girvan's friends, who described him as a good and gentle guy, are shocked by his death.

"Peter is one of those types of people who would help you before he helped himself," said Tysean Ransome, Girvan's friend of about seven years. "Whenever I was down and out, he was always there for me."

Still, Girvan was known to smoke marijuana, a habit he picked up in his native Jamaica, and he was friends with gang members, Ransome said.

Monday evening, a neighbor awoke and walked to the front of his house in time to see the shooting through a window in his front door.

The Virginia Gazette is not naming the homeowner because he fears retribution from the shooter. The source said he also spoke to police about what he saw that evening.

When the homeowner opened the door, he heard about six gunshots that sounded like they came from an automatic handgun. He did not see a muzzle flash and could not tell which side of the street the shots were fired from.

The homeowner saw a group of about five people run and get into a light colored car. The car began to drive away before the man in the rear driver's side could close his door. The light colored car's headlights came on to reveal another group of people getting into a darker car parked a little way down the street, the homeowner said.

The homeowner could not tell how many people got into the darker car. He said both cars left quickly.

Girvan was driven to the hospital by people who knew him, Ivey said.

Following the shooting, residents described the York Terrace neighborhood as being filled with children and a quiet place with a diverse population.

Ivey said he believes the shooting was not a random act of violence.

Girvan's friends are surprised by the homicide because they say Girvan was not a violent person.

"He was funny. He was hardworking. He was a good guy," said Rockii Mitchell, 21, of Boston, Mass. Mitchell met Girvan two years ago through the Loring Job Corps Center, where Girvan was studying to become an automotive technician.

Ransome remembers several times when Girvan was a peace keeper, including sheltering a woman when a fight broke out at a party and not responding physically when a friend smacked him in the face.

"He was a gentle guy. He made people happy all the time. He was still young," Mitchell said. "He needs justice."

Ransome said Girvan was the type of person who shied away from trouble, although he believes Girvan was hanging out with people who are in gangs.

"He had a lot of people around him he didn't need to have around him," Ransome said.

Although Girvan's Facebook page features photos of him smoking, he was not a known drug dealer, Ransome said.

Girvan has been charged with larceny several times, most recently on Oct. 27. He was scheduled to appear in the Williamsburg/James City County General District Court on Dec. 30.

"He used to steal from stores and stuff, but he wasn't in the streets doing anything horrible," Ransome said.

Mayfield can be reached at 757-298-5828.

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