Saturday, March 25, 2023

Higher court to hear case against man accused in Thanksgiving day shooting

Coleston Ryan Lewis (Courtesy VPRJ)

On the day before Thanksgiving 2016, 26-year-old Coleston Ryan Lewis showed a close friend a new handgun he recently acquired.

Hours later, early Thanksgiving morning, a security guard was shot dead in the northbound lanes of Route 17 in York County. Police believe Lewis, now 27, was the man behind the gun.

Following witness testimony in a preliminary hearing Tuesday afternoon, a general district court judge certified two charges against Lewis – second degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony – up to the York-Poquoson Circuit Court.

According to witnesses, Richard “Byrd” Irvin, 42, broke up an altercation at a pre-Thanksgiving tent party Nov. 23 at the County Grill & Steakhouse, moments before Lewis allegedly shot him.

Lewis’ friend and business partner, Jason Cibrin, testified in court Tuesday as the prosecution’s witness. Cibrin was also at the tent party Nov. 23 in the restaurant’s parking lot, located in the 1200 block of Route 17.

Earlier in the day Nov. 23, Lewis showed Cibrin a handgun he acquired, Cibrin testified.

Cibrin testified that he heard “commotion” outside the door of the tent around 2 a.m., and turned around to see Lewis saying “get the h–l off me.”

Restaurant employee Erin King said about ten to 15 people were involved in the altercation.

Another security guard, Jerry Haywood, said he saw Irvin pull out an asp – a law enforcement-style baton – to try to knock the gun from Lewis’ hand.

The community is rallying around the family of a security guard who was shot and killed Thanksgiving morning. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Evans)

Cibrin testified he saw Lewis, nicknamed “Ryan,” pull out a handgun and shoot at the ground.

“Byrd said ‘Come on man, I was just breaking up a fight, what are you going to do, shoot me?’” King testified. “And Ryan said ‘Yeah I will f—–g shoot you,’ and shot the ground.”

Cibrin said Lewis went back inside the tent after the altercation. Haywood testified he went to his truck to retrieve his gun.

“I knew he wasn’t going to shoot me,” said Cibrin, a 15-year friend of Lewis’.

Cibrin testified he followed Lewis to encourage him to “get out of here.” Lewis left the tent party, walking toward Route 17.

When Haywood got his gun, he saw Irvin following Lewis toward Route 17. Haywood followed, running to the edge of Route 17, he testified.

“Richard got to the dividing line of the two lanes … and Ryan raised his firearm and shot Byrd,” Haywood said.

Haywood fired his gun four times, he said, once after Lewis allegedly shot Irvin and three times when he ran away.

Haywood then performed CPR on Irvin until police arrived on scene.

After a week-long search, York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office deputies and Newport News police located Lewis Nov. 30 at a residence in Newport News. He was arrested and charged in connection to Irvin’s death.

Lewis, whose mugshot shows him with long hair pulled pack in a ponytail, appeared court with a short haircut. His mother and other supporters were present, as well as family and friends of Irvin.

After the hearing, defense attorney Tim Clancy asked a York-Poquoson sheriff’s deputy to escort Lewis’ mother to her vehicle.

Clancy declined to comment on the case.

The case is scheduled for a check status date June 15, where Lewis will request either a jury or bench trial.

Fearing can be reached at

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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