The victim of a fatal shooting that happened Monday night outside a McDonald’s in Vinton was a father of two who worked as a manager at the restaurant, according to his family.
Gary Lamont McMiller, 38, was a kindhearted, loving person, said his sister, Kiana Shepherd.
“His laugh and his personality could lighten up any dark situation,” she said. “He always had a great heart.”
McMiller, of Vinton, was struck by gunfire just before 9:40 p.m. Monday in the parking lot of a Hardy Road address occupied by a McDonald’s, police said. He later died of his injuries.
The local franchise owner of that restaurant said in a statement they were devastated by what happened.
“Our top priority is always the safety and well-being of our employees and customers at our restaurants,” said Robert Lewis. “Our hearts are with the victim’s family at this time.”
McDonald’s corporate office said counseling was being offered to workers at the restaurant.
The Vinton Police Department said it was searching for a silver sedan that fled the parking lot and is suspected of being involved.
No other information has been released about the investigation. Efforts to ask follow-up questions drew no response from the police department.
McMiller leaves behind two young daughters. He’s also survived by four siblings. His death came just 11 days after his mother passed away after a long battle with cancer.
“We’re holding up the best we can,” Shepherd said of the family. “It’s hard having two major losses like this back-to-back.”
McMiller grew up in Newark, New Jersey, but came to the Roanoke Valley about two years ago after his mother and sister moved here.
He hoped to build a new life in the community, Shepherd said, working his way up to manager at the restaurant and dreaming of one day owning his own business.
“He was definitely on the right track,” she said. “He was a great person, and he was on the road to bettering his life.”
Friends remembered McMiller as someone with a generous heart who took time to help others. “He would do anything and everything he could to make sure he could make someone’s day just a little bit better,” said Isabella Flores, whose fiancé was close with McMiller.
Flores added she was stunned by the news of Monday’s shooting. McMiller had not deserved such a heartbreaking end, she said.
This was the first homicide reported this year in Roanoke County, according to figures tracked by The Roanoke Times.
It was the second fatal shooting to take place in Vinton since 2016. Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact police by calling (540) 283-7034.