Family: Man accidentally shoots, kills best friend

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 1:46 PM EDT
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DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - After a man was shot and killed outside a Dinwiddie County home, family says the whole thing was a tragic accident involving best friends.

Deputies were called to the 7400 block of Coleman’s Lake Road in the Church Road area of the county around 10:56 p.m. on Tuesday, June 8 for a report of a person shot.

When they arrived, Jonathan Hankins, 37, of Dinwiddie, was found dead at the scene from an “apparent gunshot wound.”

Police say Jonathan Hankins, a 37-year-old Dinwiddie resident, died of an apparent gunshot wound.
Police say Jonathan Hankins, a 37-year-old Dinwiddie resident, died of an apparent gunshot wound.(Facebook)

The Dinwiddie County Sheriff said Matthew Sharpf, 37, was arrested and charged with voluntary manslaughter shortly after he was questioned by authorities. His arrest warrant was filed at the county courthouse the day after the shooting, but more than a month later, that charge set aside during a preliminary hearing.

However, the charge was a tough one to swallow for many friends and family who knew his relationship with the victim.

“They were best friends, since childhood,” a family member said.

Such close friends that John Hankins was the “flower boy” in Sharpf’s wedding.

Friends described Hankins as a man with a boisterous personality - the funny man.

“You find one real friend in life and that was Matt and John,” a family member said.

But what unfolded that June night has left a dark cloud over many.

Family said Sharpf thought someone was trying to break into the home since there was continuous banging on a window. They added Sharpf then fired his gun after Hankins did not announce himself.

The Sheriff’s Office confirmed there was no altercation between the two leading up to the shooting. The Sheriff also confirmed the account by the family member and said Sharpf remained on scene.

“Matt loved John, he would never intentionally try to harm him,” a family member said.

On the advice of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Sharpf was charged with voluntary manslaughter, but that charge was eventually set aside.

Now many in the community are trying to come to grips with the loss that unfolded.

“It’s devastating,” a family member said.

Sharpf’s family has asked for privacy as they handle this matter – one the Dinwiddie Sheriff calls a “horrible situation.”

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