Young Local Shooting Victim Dies

Renee -- November 21st, 2008

It has been reported by those close to Reginald LaShay “Shay” Nicholson that after being put on life support, he died of his injuries last night.

19-year-old Shay Nicholson was the victim of the November 9 Harrisonburg shooting, which took place at a party at Hunter’s Ridge Apartments near JMU. Shay Nicholson had been listed in critical condition since being taken to UVA Medical Center, and survived 11 days before passing away.

Nicholson had been a star football player at Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton, VA, and graduated last year. He was attending Liberty University this year.

Five suspects, all from Charlottesville and Ruckersville, VA have been arrested in connection with the shooting. The News Leader reported that “the suspected shooter, Zackery Turner, 18, of Charlottesville was initially charged with aggravated malicious wounding, use of a firearm in commission of a felony, reckless handling of a firearm and discharge of a firearm in or around a school.” It is assumed those charges will now include murder.

Three other alleged participants – Gregory Baker (20), Demonds Parrish (19) and Jahmaine Faqiri (18) – had previously been arrested and charged with assault and battery by mob and gang participation. Ricky Parrish (21), the fifth and final wanted suspect turned himself in on November 19, and was arrested under the same charges.

Family member Cindy Wood has been organizing prayer vigils for the Nicholson family and is accepting donations to help cover medical bills via PayPal address More information is available at the Facebook page set up by Wood. According to Wood, contributions can also be taken to Dupont Community Credit Union, where account #654606 has been set up to accept donations for the family.

Photo of Shay Nicholson from Facebook


The Harrisonburg Police Department’s shooting investigation has been upgraded to a homicide investigation.

Reginald Nicholson, 19, of Staunton was shot on Nov. 9 in the 1300 block of Bradley Drive. This evening, at 6:15 p.m. Mr. Nicholson was pronounced dead at UVA Medical Center.

Zackery Turner, 18, of Charlottesville has been charged with first degree murder.

“Our thoughts are certainly with Shay Nicholson’s family during this time,” said Criminal Investigations Commander Lt. Kurt Boshart. “The past two weeks has been extremely difficult for them and we continue to be committed, seeing this investigation through to the end.”

HPD’s Criminal Investigations Division continues to investigate this incident.

New DNR Article.

Update from Cindy Wood:

“Just to clear anything up. Shay was pronouced brain dead last night, to a point where there was no way he was coming back. They had to keep his heart beating until this evening because they had to preserve his organs to donate. So when I said Shay was gone, it was because he was. Shay was no longer with us. I was told by his mom that he didn’t make it this morning.”

25 Responses to “Young Local Shooting Victim Dies”

  1. Breslau says:

    Extremely horrible and saddening. I can barely say any more.

    Every time there’s a murder or shooting in Hburg, I think of how blessed we are as a community in that there’s so little violent crime. It always makes me think of how lucky and privileged I am (and all are) to be able to walk throughout the city without any serious safety worries. Still, this is one murder too many. Thanks for the detailed story, Renee.

  2. Renee says:

    You’re welcome. I wanted to cover it when it happened, and we didn’t post anything about it earlier, so I wanted to do a good job when we did put it up. It’s sad we had to write it under these circumstances – I was so hoping he’d pull through.

    Yeah, it is good that there are few shootings here, but so sad when it does happen. The situation is sad and scary – so many JMU students have parties where they let anyone in. It’s so sad that it got out of hand and ended up this way.

  3. factcheck says:

    factcheck your stuff…he’s still alive you wannabe reporter.

  4. Renee says:

    Please notice by all of my linked articles and pages that I did my best to check as many references as possible (Including posts made by his cousins on other sites stating that he had indeed passed away) because I know there was controversy as to whether or not Shay had died, due to lack of police communication.

    I have added the update from HPD that this has been upgraded to a homicide investigation.

  5. Renee says:

    And “factcheck”, I probably should’ve deleted your comment, but I left it because I know there are other people on other websites posting the same way, but hopefully with the most recent police update, there will be no doubts now. I wish you were right and he were still alive.

  6. melissa says:

    Sad. And senseless.

  7. To clarify the timeline: On Thursday night, Shay Nicholson’s family was told he was brain dead. On Friday morning and afternoon, various news and social sites reported that he was dead. His family and friends posting on those sites obviously considered him gone and were understandably grieving. Shay was pronounced dead Friday night at 6:15, four hours before “factcheck” posted on this site that he was still alive.

  8. lbj23 says:

    “Nicholson had been a star football player at Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton, VA, and graduated last year. He was attending Liberty University this year.”

    He dropped out of Liberty after a semester a year ago. He was attending BRCC. That info was readily available this week.

  9. Emmy says:

    Why is everyone being so critical of what is written here? Does it change the fact that this senseless act of violence has left a young man dead? If you see something on this blog that is factually incorrect, you can simply leave a polite comment, or use the Contact Us page.

    My thoughts are with his family. I pray that they find some peace.

  10. Renee says:

    When researching for this article, lbj23, I saw everything from him graduating from Lee in 2005 to 2007, and from him attending Liberty to not, so what I did is went by what Shay posted on his own Facebook search listing, which said Liberty ’11, so I went with that.

    I’m sorry if there is any info not 100% factually correct. I thank Cindy and Deona for helping clear things up. If anyone has additional information, feel free to comment here. If you are a family member and have suggestions for editing the post or want to be quoted in my story, please use the contact form on this page to get in touch with me.

    I would have tried to call his family last night to get more facts and quotes, but I didn’t want to bother them since they are undoubtedly deeply grieving. I also wanted to get the article up last night since he had passed away by that point and I wanted the information to be timely.

    I hope readers will take this post with the spirit in which it was written. I am extremely saddened by this event, and had a hard time deciding to write the article – I’ve never written about someone’s tragic death before, especially a young man. After reading friends’ facebook pages, seeing snapshots of him playing football and graduating from high school, and even seeing posts he made on other people’s pages days before he died, it hit home how hard this must be to people close to him.

    I just wanted to post about the happenings because it is local news and we hadn’t covered it yet here on the blog, and I didn’t want to totally ignore that the shooting had happened, or that the charges would now be upgraded to murder. I also made a point to not mention the suspects until the click-through because I wanted the story to focus on Shay, the victim.

    I tried to do the best I could, being respectful to his family. With that in mind, please keep the focus of comments on Shay, his family, the shooting, and the suspects & charges/trial.

  11. David Miller says:

    Thank you for your reporting and for the respect with which you reported the events. Also for the timely manner in which you did so.

  12. Emmy says:

    Renee you did a great job.

  13. Brian M says:

    This was an excellently written report. Thanks, Renee for taking the time to write it. Perhaps those that have concerns would be interested in researching and writing stories? Then perhaps they too would know how difficult it can be.

  14. Renee says:

    Thanks for your nice compliments, David, Emmy and Brian! I appreciate it.

    I would like to keep the comments from now on for Shay’s family and not about this article… Should I delete all this back and forth and let everyone post for him?

  15. Watchman says:

    Renee, I for one feel your reporting is very responsible and the kind needed on Your sensitivity to everyone’s feelings is to be saluted. This unfortunate killing I am sure will be analyzed from every conceivable angle in due time. I was once told by doctors at UVA that my little boy was going to die and there was nothing that could be done to prevent it. By the grace of God they were wrong, and he is alive today. When the doctors initially told me he was going to die, I will never, never forget how every fiber in my being ached. I was spared the loss of a child. Shay Nicholoson’s family was not spared. As I write this I am aware that there are parents in various waiting rooms at UVA, (and many other places), who are being told of the impending death of their child. Then there are the fellows that are charged in Shay’s death. Had they the chance to turn the clock back I am almost certain they would. No matter how old we are, at one time we were our parents little man or little girl. That little man or little girl may have taken paths in life that led to dreadful consequences. Still, I hope that they are still special in the eyes of their parents. Today many parents are heartbroken. It may be impossible for them or others to believe at this point, but personally I hold God to his Word…and He will work everything for good.
    Renee, be proud of your efforts. Humbly do your best and don’t give up. Stay strong in the face of criticism.

  16. Brian M says:

    Well said, Watchman.

  17. Andy Perrine says:


    I agree that your reporting here is solid and sensitive. But I don’t understand this comment of yours:

    “Yeah, it is good that there are few shootings here, but so sad when it does happen. The situation is sad and scary – so many JMU students have parties where they let anyone in. It’s so sad that it got out of hand and ended up this way.”

    Wasn’t the kid with the gun at fault? How about he parents of the gang members — some minors — who had no idea what their kids were doing out late that night? Aren’t they at fault?

    Agreed that the parties create a tempting target. But please let’s keep our eyes on who is truly at fault in this: the triggerman and the societal issues leading him to feel a need to join a gang and carry a gun. Not a party.

  18. Emmy says:

    Andy, I can’t speak for Renee, but I don’t think she meant to imply that those who were truly at fault in this case aren’t the real people to blame.

    However, she makes a good point about the parties. Even in to college some young people think nothing bad will ever happen to them and let their guard down way to often. Certainly the trigger man and the others involved are to blame here and hopefully they will be severely punished. This poor young man is not to blame, he just wanted to have a good time. But if anything can be taken away from this sad event, then perhaps it is that if you’re going to have a party, it shouldn’t be open door.

  19. Andy Perrine says:

    Thanks for your comments, Emmy. And please don’t misinterpret my remarks — open door parties are not a good idea, and everyone at the university is aware of the dangers they present. Unfortunately, open door parties are a tradition started in the 1970’s when Madison and Harrisonburg existed in a much different world. We’re working at the university to change this tradition. But as you might guess, its not easy.

  20. Renee says:

    Thanks for explaining what I intended, Emmy. Andy, of course I do believe the shooter is to blame and I wasn’t trying to imply otherwise – I’m sorry if it came across that way. I added the comment about the parties on to explain why it’s “scary” – that this could really happen at any of those open-door JMU parties. I’m scared for the kids because anyone that knows these kinds of parties go on here could easily take advantage and cause trouble, and I could imagine it was very easy for these guys to bring a gun into the victim’s home.

    I’m not blaming Shay or the party for what happened. The person that brought the gun in and the person that shot at another human being obviously caused his death and should be punished severely for it.

    Nothing like this has happened in recent memory at a JMU party, and when the city seems so safe, it’s easy to let your guard down when you’re trying to have fun and have an inclusive party – hundreds of students host these kinds of parties every weekend. I just hope students learn from this tragedy that you never know what stranger’s intentions are when you let them into your home, and that they will hopefully be more careful now that this extreme tragedy has occurred. It’s sad it sometimes takes an event like this to serve as a wake-up call.

  21. Andy Perrine says:

    Completely agreed, Renee. Although this soon after young Shay Nicholson’s death, I am hesitant to look for the silver lining. It’s just too damn sad that he died for no reason at his age. But over time — as you suggest — if we all can learn something from his death, then he should not have died in vain.

  22. Emmy says:

    Andy, I will totally agree with you on all of that.

    I guess I look for the silver lining so I don’t go insane.

  23. Renee says:

    Yes, I agree with you Andy.

  24. Renee says:

    I also agree with Emmy about looking at what little positive we can gain from this horribly negative event. My immediate thought is how we can prevent additional young deaths, and I realize it takes a lot more (in terms of crime-stopping) than having people be careful who they let into their apartments, but that is a start.

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