Asheville, NC (WLOS) — Memorial Day Weekend got off to a tragic start in West Asheville.
Asheville Police say one man is dead after a gunfight at a West Asheville pub in the early hours of Saturday, May 29.
Police say it happened outside Westville Pub, at 777 Haywood Road, just after 1 a.m. Police said 31-year-old Keith Blair died and another two other individuals were injured, one of which was in critical condition as of Saturday morning.
Westville Pub posted a statement on Facebook Saturday after the shooting, saying the staff is “shell-shocked.” Out of respect to the staff and victims, the bar was closed on Saturday and will reopen on Sunday, May 30.
West Asheville resident Lincoln McDonald said the Westville Pub is a popular place, and when something like this happens, the whole community is hurting. He said he goes there often and was there when the shooting happened.
“They know me by name. They’ll throw a drink at me because they already know what I’m going to have,” McDonald said.
He said it was a busy night at the pub, and he was towards the front of the bar when the shots first started going off.
“It turned to pandemonium real quick,” McDonald said. “I kind of threw myself in front of the bar and got on the ground and that’s when I saw a couple girls across the room from me underneath the table.”
He said once the gunfire seemed like it had stopped, he ran outside as quickly as he could, tripping over a fallen barstool, which caused him to suffer some bruises and scrapes along the way. Once he finally got home, he said he had a difficult time falling asleep.
He said this tragedy does not define the beloved watering hole that has been a fixture of the community for about two decades.
“I will be back because I love this place,” McDonald said. “Everyone’s been nothing but supportive and showing love and that’s how you recover from something like this.”
People placed flowers at the front and back of the pub following the incident to show their support for the business.
“When tragedies like this happen, that’s the best time to meet the moment and come together,” McDonald said.
Asheville Police say they found over 30 shell casings and 7 vehicles were hit by bullets. Asheville resident Joseph Shively, Jr. said his truck was one of them.
Shively said he frequents Westville Pub, too. He said he had briefly stepped out of the bar to smoke a cigarette when the shots started going off.
“I started hearing ‘bang bang bang bang bang’ and everyone started running everywhere, screaming and yelling,” Shively said. “There were at least a dozen people hunkered down by their cars screaming for their kids, their mom.”
He gave his account to Asheville police of what happened.
“It’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about all day,” he said.
Shively said he’d like to see justice for the victims and for all the people who had to witness this act of violence.
“Some of my friends work there and you could tell they were pretty shooken up,” Shively said.
No arrests have been made at this time. Asheville Police are investigating the shooting and are asking for your help.
If you would like to anonymously share information you can text TIP2APD to 847411, or use the TIP2APD smartphone app. You can also share information by calling 828-252-1110.
This is the third homicide in Asheville since January 1, 2021.
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