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Man charged in fatal Salem shooting appears in court

Authorities said he shot, killed estranged wife’s fiancé

Zane Christian is currently being held without bond and there is no trial date set at this time.
Zane Christian is currently being held without bond and there is no trial date set at this time.

A Christiansburg man accused of shooting and killing another man in Salem appeared in court on Tuesday morning.

Zane Christian is accused of shooting and killing Rico Turner at the Lakeside Plaza last November.

In court on Tuesday, Zane Christian’s estranged wife, Emily Christian, testified that she and Zane Christian had a custody hearing that resulted in his child support payments increasing one week before the shooting happened. Zane Christian is also accused of carjacking someone near Virginia Tech’s campus later that day after the shooting.

According to her testimony, the estranged couple was set to do a custody exchange between their children before Zane Christian allegedly shot her fiance, Rico Turner.

In her testimony, Emily Christian said Turner had been at custody exchanges before and she chose that spot because they had met there before and it was a public place. However, Emily said this was the first time Turner’s son had been to a visitation exchange. In court, it was stated that Turner was known to carry a box cutter clipped to his jeans.

Emily Christian told the court that she parked next to Zane Christian and he told her to grab their children from his car. She said he then started keying her car when Turner got out and pushed Christian. At this point, she said the children were still in Christian’s car.

“He got up and he pulled a gun out of the waistband of his pants and started shooting Rico and start walking towards him, and then went over to him as he continued to shoot him,” Emily Christian said.

She then told the court she grabbed her daughter out of the backseat before Christian drove away. She said she stayed there until the police arrived.

Turner was alive when authorities arrived, according to Sgt. David Cooper with Salem Police Department who testified on Tuesday.

“He was asked, who did this who shot him, and he said Zane Christian,” Sgt. David Cooper with the Salem Police Department said.

Cooper said there was a large amount of blood and that Turner had been shot twice in the legs, once in the back and once in the neck.

The defense argued that there was no evidence that this case has premeditation and that Christian may have suspected Turner had a box cutter on him.

In court, the Commonwealth argued that Zane Christian was mad about the rise in child support payments.

In Salem, Zane Christian has been charged with first-degree murder and two counts of child neglect/endangerment. In Montgomery County, he’s been charged with carjacking, grand larceny and use of a firearm in a felony offense. A child endangerment charge against him related to Turner’s son was dismissed.

No trial date has been set yet, and Zane Christian will be continued to be held without bond.


About the Authors:

Samantha Smith joined WSLS 10’s award-winning digital team as a digital content producer in July 2018.

Annie Schroeder joined the 10 News team as a reporter in June 2020 and is no stranger to Southwest Virginia.