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Suspect arrested in bar shooting

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Police have arrested a Charleston man accused in the weekend shootings of three people at a Capitol Street bar.

Braheem Griffin, 19, was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon at Sistah's Rib Shack in North Charleston three days after allegedly shooting William Wallace, 34, of South Charleston and Charleston residents Shawn Williams, 23, and Darryl Denson, 44.

Griffin was taken into custody with a friend, Curtis Watkins, also of Charleston, said Lt. Steve Cooper, chief of detectives. Both men had guns in their possession when police approached them.

Watkins was found with a 9-millimeter handgun in his waistband. The weapon was loaded with one bullet in the chamber, according to a criminal complaint filed at Kanawha Magistrate Court.

"It was a precarious situation for the detectives," Cooper said Tuesday evening. "(Griffin) was slow to comply and he was armed."  

Both men were taken into custody without major incident. Cooper would not say if the gun found in Griffin's possession was the same weapon used in the shooting.

Griffin was charged with five counts of wanton endangerment and three counts of malicious wounding. Watkins was to be arraigned later Tuesday on a single count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of crack cocaine with intent to deliver.

Watkins was taken to Charleston Area Medical Center's General Hospital after his arrest. Wearing a T-shirt and olive green long underwear with white evidence tape around his waist, he avoided cameras in the police station as detectives walked him to the elevator.

Watkins was not injured. Cooper said detectives had a search warrant for Watkins' person and had to take him to the hospital to execute it. Detectives recovered 3.6 grams of crack cocaine from his body.

Cooper could not say if Watkins was involved in the Saturday lounge shooting.

Cooper said Griffin is known to police. He was shot earlier this year on the city's West Side.

"Mr. Griffin has been on our radar due to some other criminal activity we've been investigating," Cooper said. "Turns out that we were able to identify him from a video that was related to the shooting on Capitol Street, as well as some witness information and some physical information."

Wallace, Williams and Denson were not seriously injured in the shooting and have all been released from the hospital.

Detectives said the incident began with an argument inside Sky Lounge. The argument, which was over a woman, escalated and the three were escorted outside.

That's when Griffin, who bar owner Morgan Pauley said was never in the bar, allegedly began shooting.

Williams and Denson were struck while still inside the bar and Wallace was struck while standing in the street, detectives said.

A confidential informant told detectives Griffin was the shooter. He said Griffin was involved in a fight several weeks before and that he and another person went to the bar Saturday to find the people he had been fighting with, according to a complaint.

The informant told police that once the people came outside Griffin ambushed them and began shooting into the crowd.

Witnesses told police they saw the shooter, described as a 6-foot-1 black man in his mid-to-late 20s, firing shots into the bar's entrance and into the ground.

Detectives said they knew Griffin from previous encounters and recognized him when he appeared on surveillance footage from Capitol Street.

The man they identified as Griffin leaned against a white car in front of the bar and after about five minutes, when individuals began running out of the lounge, he "appeared to engage the group," the complaint said.

"Griffin is seen pulling an object from his waistband and soon after the crowd ducks and disperses as shots are fired," detectives wrote in the complaint.

The state Alcohol Beverage Control Administration revoked the bar's liquor license. It will reopen under new management, Pauley told reporters on Sunday.

Griffin and Watkins are being held at South Central Regional Jail. Griffin's bond was set at $200,000 and Watkins was set at $100,000 bond.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at or 304-348-4850.


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