Smith County sheriff: Gas station murder suspect, victim had several past run-ins

‘It is allegedly drug related’

Smith County sheriff: Gas station murder suspect, victim had several past run-ins

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A Tyler man is behind bars tonight in connection to allegations that he shot and killed a man at a gas station parking lot.

James Robert Smith III, 27, is charged with murder, and detectives say he fired multiple shots into 27-year-old Donnavon Reese’s car, killing him.

“He backed up into them, said, ‘Hey bro,’ and began firing,” said Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith.

It was a shooting death the Smith County sheriff described as the result of a chance encounter between enemies.

“I think he was doing something we call spraying and praying, shooting at all he could and hoping to hit something,” Smith said.

Deputies said Smith fired at least seven rounds at a maroon Toyota, eventually hitting Reese, the driver.

“The victims were out there changing a flat for someone. The suspect lives in the area, potentially recognized the victim, and wanted to even the score,” Smith said.

Smith said Reese and Smith have had a couple of altercations in the past.

“It is allegedly drug related,” Smith said.

Two passengers in the car with Reese were not injured, and Smith was able to flee from the scene.

Investigators arrested Smith on Sunday while executing a search warrant at his home in Tyler.

“During that detention, he didn’t even ask what he was detained for, so at that point, we had a good idea that we were looking at the right suspect,” Smith said.

Donnavon Reese’s family and friends plan to hold a candlelight vigil on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at P.T. Cole Park in Tyler.

“Donnavon meant so much to everybody around him, and he affected so many people’s lives, and it’s crazy that you have to wait until a time like this to see,” said Donnavon’s fiancé G’emaya LaVassaur.

Copyright 2019 KLTV. All rights reserved.