Pennsylvania Cemetery Shooting Death Ruled Justifiable Self Defense

Ambler, Pennsylvania – No charges will be filed in relation to a deadly shooting at Whitemarsh Memorial Park in Ambler, Pennsylvania, as it was ruled justifiable self-defense by the Montgomery County District Attorney.

The shooting occurred on March 18th, 2023, at a “birthday celebration” at the cemetery. Daniel Hawkins, 29, of Philadelphia, was pronounced dead on the scene, and Arian Davis, 33, of Philadelphia, was seriously injured after being shot in the jaw, hand, and leg, officials say. More than 30 shots were fired, and the now-deceased bad actor, Hawkins, was found dead with a handgun near his body.

An investigation by Horsham Township Police and Montgomery County detectives found that the firearm near Hawkins’ body had an extended magazine and was altered with a device known as a glock-switch, which converts the handgun into a fully automatic weapon. Hawkins was prohibited from having a firearm due to prior criminal convictions, and he drove to the cemetery in a Jeep Grand Cherokee with a fake temporary license plate, according to the DA’s Office.

Authorities say that as Davis and another person were sitting in the car they arrived in, Hawkins approached the vehicle and began shooting the automatic weapon at Davis. Davis, who had a valid Pennsylvania concealed carry permit, returned fire with his legally purchased gun and fatally struck Hawkins.

District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said: “There is no doubt about who shot and killed Hawkins, so the legal issue to be analyzed is whether this was a justifiable killing. To be justified in his shooting of Hawkins, the shooter had to be in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury. Evidence shows that Hawkins approached Davis’ vehicle and began firing multiple rounds at him using a firearm that was illegally altered to fire rapidly.” Steele added, “Davis was under attack and in danger of being killed when he fired his legally owned weapon to end the threat. For these reasons, I conclude that this was a justifiable shooting, and therefore, no criminal charges are warranted.”

A separate article backed up the findings. The investigation determined that Hawkins had shown up alone at a birthday party at the grave of Tyrek Fairel, who was killed in a Norristown shooting in 2013. Hawkins arrived in a stolen vehicle, armed with a handgun that had been illegally modified into a fully automatic weapon. After finding Davis seated in a car along with a friend, Hawkins approached and began firing his weapon into the vehicle. Davis responded by firing back with his legally owned weapon.

The incident highlights the need for Americans with concealed carry licenses to be prepared to defend themselves at any moment, as evidenced by Davis’s quick response to an imminent threat. Statistics also show that CCW holders are among the most law-abiding Americans and shoot and kill fewer people at a statistically significant rate lower than police officers. The decision not to file criminal charges against Davis reinforces the importance of carrying a gun on you at all times and the ability to defend oneself against violent threats.