Jailhouse Confession Aids Investigation of Norge Farm Fresh Shooting

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Brian Hicks (Courtesy of Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail)
Brian Hicks (Courtesy of Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail)

A recent jailhouse confession adds another angle into the investigation of what led to a fatal shooting at a Farm Fresh supermarket in James City County.

Brian Alexander Hicks, 55, is accused of shooting 34-year-old Gabriel Ryan Maness, of Providence Forge, multiple times around 8 a.m. Sunday inside the store at 115 Norge Lane.

It is believed Hicks acted alone, and Maness was a customer shopping in the store at the time of the incident. James City County Police investigators do not believe Hicks and Maness knew each other prior to the shooting.

Hicks, who is being held without bond at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail, told CBS affiliate NewsChannel 3 on Monday that God told him to commit the crime.

The report noted Hicks, at various points in the interview, spoke in a British accent, referred to himself as John Lennon, called himself God and knelt down to pray at one point.

Speaking in a calm tone, Hicks told a NewsChannel 3 reporter he felt badly about what happened Sunday and was in a “spirit of confusion.”

However, a motive for the shooting has yet to be found.

“We’re not ruling out anything, so there’s a lot of different angles we’re looking at, and information from that interview will give investigators another avenue to explore,” Deputy Chief Steve Rubino, a spokesman for the James City County Police, told WYDaily on Tuesday.

Rubino said Hicks was on his way to Virginia Beach; his reason for heading there or why he stopped in James City County remains unknown as police continue to investigate a motive.

Investigators are looking heavily into his background to determine a motive. Hicks is retired from the U.S. Air Force and worked for a government contractor, said Rubino, who was not willing to release the name of the contractor at this time.

When police arrived on scene, Hicks was reportedly standing about 5 feet away from the victim’s body on aisle six, near the middle of the store.

Hicks had already placed the .45 caliber handgun, believed to be used in the crime, on the floor prior to police’s arrival, court documents show. He then surrendered to police and was taken into custody without incident.

Rubino said police have nothing to suggest the two knew each other, nor was there any indication of an altercation prior to the shooting.

Rubino said he did not know if the gun was registered to or owned by Hicks; gun registration is not required in Virginia.

Five shell casings were found near the suspect and the victim, and a medical examiner discovered five gunshot wounds in the victim’s body, according to documents filed with the Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court.

Hicks also had two loaded magazines, fitting the handgun’s model and caliber, in his pocket at the time of arrest, police said.

Rubino said there were some cameras in the store but none in the area of where the shooting occurred.

Hicks is facing felony charges of second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, according to court documents.

First-degree murder is considered as premeditated, while second-degree murder is still an intentional killing but not considered premeditated.

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