By Chrisleen Herard,
Special to the AFRO
DaVon Fuller was a promising defensive back when he played football for Dunbar High School and then the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. In other words, Fuller was able to think fast, adjust and defend a position–he was good at it.
Fuller made plays on and off of the field to better himself, proving he was able to adjust to challenges in the game of life, which doesn’t have a playbook.
On Oct. 16, Fuller was shot and killed in a parking lot near his home on Maryland Avenue in Northeast, D.C., as a fatal result of an alleged argument that took place inside a grocery store.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I share that DaVon Fuller, a kind-hearted and thoughtful young man, was killed yesterday in a shooting,” David Tansey, one of Fuller’s former teachers and mentors at Dunbar, wrote in a Facebook post. “He was one of my best students.”
On Oct. 16, authorities from the Fifth District Metropolitan Police Department responded to a call regarding a shooting in the 1500 block of Maryland Avenue, Northeast. When officers arrived at the scene, they discovered a man suffering from gunshot wounds.
The victim was transported to a nearby hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead. The man was later identified as 28-year-old DaVon Fuller.
“Though his tough reality interfered with his path to success, his future still seemed so hopeful,” Tansey wrote.
Fuller brought Dunbar to victory against Coolidge High School after a homecoming game in 2012, the same game he was crowned senior homecoming king by his classmates. He was also an honor student who was a part of the Gentlemen of Dunbar, a fraternity that met and spoke about the issues and misfortunes that Black men face and how they would overcome them.
Fuller went on to become the District of Columbia’s Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Turkey Bowl Championship MVP the year after in 2013, and, after graduating from college, worked under Councilmember Brianne Nadeau as a constituent services coordinator in his attempt to help bring about positive change and overcome the challenges and violence in D.C.
“DaVon grew up in Ward 1, was well-loved in our community and worked incredibly hard in our office,” Nadeau wrote in a statement. “He was a proud and caring father of two young children. His murder is a tragic loss and I sincerely hope there is justice for him.”
“I am sending my condolences to his family, friends and the community he loved, and that loved him back.”
But his path to success came to a halt in 2019 when Fuller was arrested for an incident that occurred outside a marijuana pop-up market. Court documents revealed that two men were allegedly attempting to rob Fuller when he and a man he was with pulled out a firearm and let off multiple shots, leaving behind 12 shell casings at the scene.
Despite the circumstances, Fuller had been denied a concealed-carry permit, which would have allowed him to carry a weapon outside his residence, and was arrested and charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, unlawful discharge of a firearm and destruction of property. Fuller was working for Nadeau for roughly a year at this point but was eventually let go following his arrest.
It was after this incident that Fuller’s life seemed to have taken him onto a different path, one that the former football star and Democrat staffer hadn’t planned on taking after graduating college, as headlines continued to attach his name to his 2019 arrest. Then, in 2020, Fuller lost his mother to a battle with breast cancer.
“DaVon’s road was uneven, but he had a passion for service, his people, and our city,” Markus Batchelor, an advocate and national political director at People for the American Way, wrote in a tweet. “He deserved more days and more opportunities. Instead, he became DC’s 220th homicide victim in 2023.”
Two days before his death, on Oct. 14, Fuller had been arrested in the same parking lot where he was murdered after allegedly getting angry that his credit card didn’t work in a store inside the Starburst Plaza.
While pacing back and forth in front of the store’s doors, Fuller allegedly said, “I will shoot everybody in there,” according to an arrest affidavit. He was charged with making threats but released while awaiting a court hearing that was scheduled for next month.
Detectives are investigating Fuller’s death and have not determined whether the two incidents are connected. The MPD is offering up to a $25,000 reward to anyone who can provide information that will lead to the arrest of the suspect involved and ask that residents call the police regarding the case at 202-727-9099. Anonymous information can be sent to the department’s text tip line by sending a message to 50411.
“I often described DaVon as the type of man you hoped your daughter would bring home,” Tansey wrote. “I am still in shock. I can’t imagine that he’s gone from this world.”
Fuller now leaves behind his brothers, sisters and two sons, aged three and six.
“People will always judge you on success or failure, but (I don’t care) what they think about me,” Fuller wrote in a Facebook post after announcing that he was expecting his first son. “My eagerness to learn, grow and take well-trained, disciplined action to make solid changes in my life is what drives me.”