Family, friends remember slain Salisbury man, reward being offered
By Shavonne Walker
James Dobbs Jr. last spoke with his son, Jonathan Pierre Dillard, in July. The two talked in what was one of their weekly phone calls. Seven days ago, Dobbs received devastating news that his only son was shot and killed some 200 miles away from where Dobbs resides in Augusta, Ga.
Dillard, 30, was found Saturday morning in a driveway at 828 Park Ave., between a residence and a vacant home. Salisbury Police continue to investigate his murder and say a donor has offered a $500 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the shooting death.
The money was given to the police department and earmarked by the donor for this case, said Salisbury Police Capt. Shelia Lingle.
No arrest has been made in the case, but Lingle said detectives have continued to conduct “follow-ups.”
Neighbors said they heard gunshots several hours before Dillard’s body was found just before 5 a.m. Police have released no other details, but Lingle did say there was some confusion as to whether there was a homicide in this neighborhood prior to Dillard’s death.
She confirmed there hasn’t been a murder in the neighborhood in a number of years. There was a drive-by shooting in March where Cordera Rayshard Brown, 27, was shot at North Shaver and Park Avenue.
Lingle said there have been incidents in and around that area, but no other murders this year in the Park Avenue neighborhood prior to Dillard’s death.
Dobbs said he was told his son was robbed before he was killed, but police have not confirmed a robbery.
He called the shooting a “mean” act, but said he forgives the person who did it.
“Whoever did this, I forgive them. I have to forgive them so that I’m at peace,” Dobbs said.
Dobbs said he doesn’t want any other family to go through this.
Friend Sean Sindle said he met Dillard sometime around 2008 or 2009 when, after working his shift as a bartender at Outback, Dillard would stop in at Sindle’s business, Tabu Bar and Lounge in Salisbury.
He said Dillard often wouldn’t drink, just sip water and talk.
“He always had a smile on his face. I could have the worst night ever, and he would walk in and you’d forget all about it. He was a great guy. He never had a cross word to say about anybody. You could walk up to him and start a conversation with him and feel like you’ve known him for a million years,” Sindle said.
Sindle said he was also shocked to hear his friend was murdered.
“It’s hard to believe that someone would senselessly shoot down this man. All of the pictures I have, he had a huge smile on his face,” he said.
A candlelight vigil is planned for Dillard on Tuesday at 10 p.m. at City Park. Organizers say candles will be provided.
Vigil organizer Carrie Maner said she knew Dillard’s funeral would be held in his home state of South Carolina and figured some Salisbury friends, like her and her husband, would not be able to travel to Columbia. Dillard’s funeral will be held 11 a.m. Friday in the chapel of the Leevy’s Funeral Home on Taylor Street.
Maner said she and her husband, Derek, decided a vigil would be an “opportunity for everyone who knew and loved Pierre to come together and support one another as we mourn the loss of someone so special.”
Dillard was “such an amazing person” that a vigil was the least that could be done to show respect as a community and to also “bring awareness to senseless acts of crime” that tear families apart, she said.
The couple wanted to give others a chance to share memories of Dillard whom she will remember as the “funny, caring, and outgoing man that we all knew him to be,” not as she feels he’s being portrayed by news accounts.
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