Covington Neighborhood on Edge After Homicide

James Bryant

Reporter: David Tate

Covington, VA - The community in the City of Covington is on edge following a Saturday morning fight that ended with the death of a father of five.

Family members say Steven "Pete" Seams died Saturday from a knife wound to the neck.

James Bryant, 42, is now charged with first-degree-murder. But there's more to the story.

Police believe Tuesday night, someone set the alleged killer's house on fire as he sits in jail, which has police and neighbors in this community concerned more violence could follow.

"Everybody loved him. If you met him he was respectful. He always tipped his hat to the ladies through the neighborhood. It's just how he was... he kept you laughing," said Elanar White, Seams's sister, about her brother.

As family and friends sit around and watch a memorial video made to honor Seams, a father and a US Marine, the neighborhood outside is nervous four days after Seams was stabbed in an alley following a fight with his neighbor; his adoptive mother at his side.

"The night that it happened... when we heard all the screaming and yelling, he was holding onto her asking her not to leave him. He's bleeding everywhere and he's holding onto her," said Shonda Hunter, Seams's adoptive cousin.

"No one saw this coming at all. It's just really been hard on everybody," said White.

Charged with first-degree-murder, Bryant himself became a victim Tuesday night when his house caught on fire as he sat in jail. Investigators suspect arson.

Family members of Seams say rumors about the weekend death are rampant, including one that suggested Bryant was free after claiming self defense, which so far is not true.

"People are angry. If something isn't done... I don't know what can be done, but people are angry and it's scary," said Hunter.

Now police and neighbors who live here are concerned about retaliation.

The police chief himself is asking the community to "work together to bring this to a safe conclusion and keep everyone safe."

A memorial service for Seams is scheduled for Friday afternoon at Gospel Tabernacle in Covington.

The family asks that any donations considered for Seams's children be sent to a fund that has been set up in his name, in care of Serenity Funeral Home in Roanoke.