It started with accusations of a stolen cellphone, escalated into a barroom brawl and ended with shots fired and a man dead in the Pier Village on St. Simons Island.
The accused killer later allegedly told an investigator he might have gone too far when he fired a 9 mm handgun at the 37-year-old off-duty federal law enforcement officer during the midnight hour on Dec. 15, according to testimony Thursday in Glynn County Magistrate Court.
Wolf Ruben Valmond, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency trainee at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, died on the scene with a gunshot to the chest. Calvin Jenkins, 27, was jailed on a murder charge several hours after the incident, apprehended by Glynn County Police in a traffic stop before dawn at U.S. Highway 17 and Golden Isles Parkway on the mainland. And what of the cellphone that a woman accompanying Jenkins insisted was stolen by a friend of Valmond?
“It was in their vehicle the entire time,” Glynn County Police investigator Molly Cruikshank testified Thursday during the preliminary hearing for Jenkins. Magistrate Court Judge Wallace Harrell bounded Jenkins over to Superior Court for trial. Jenkins remains in the Glynn County Detention Center without bond.
Cruikshank’s testimony outlined the chronology of a senseless tragedy, a pointless dispute that rose unabated to the worst possible scenario. Surveillance video inside and outside of the upstairs bar at 315 Mallery St. captured most of the incident, from a shoving match on the Rafters dance floor to the moment when Jenkins allegedly tossed the just-fired handgun into a streetside flower bed, Cruikshank said.
Valmond, a married father of an 8-year-old girl, was out with fellow FLETC classmates when they arrived at Rafters. Jenkins, Nassir Kurmue and two women also were at the bar. One of the women with Jenkins suspected her missing cellphone had been stolen by a member of the party accompanying Valmond, Cruikshank said.
Video inside the bar shows a shouting match beginning between several people, with Valmond on one side and Jenkins and the woman on the other. A friend of Valmond’s is punched and “several people hit the floor,” Cruikshank said. “Essentially, it was a brawl,” she added. Asked how many people were involved, she said, “At least 10.”
Bouncers and bartenders broke up the fight and ordered everyone involved to leave the bar. Exterior surveillance video picked up the simmering dispute from there. Valmond and his crowd are seen walking toward the pier after exiting the bar. Jenkins is seen walking across the street, Cruikshank said.
Moments later, both groups can be seen walking back toward Rafters, with Jenkins first and Valmond after, she said. Video shows Jenkins “angrily gesturing toward a bouncer” just outside the bar, she said. Kurmue is seen sucker-punching Valmond in the back of the head as Valmond is arguing with Jenkins. (Police charged Kermue with misdemeanor simple battery.) At one point, Valmond is seen shoving the woman who accused his friend of stealing the phone. A witness told police Jenkins retrieved a hand gun from a white SUV, she said.
A county patrol officer was in the nearby parking lot of Parker’s convenience store and heard gunfire, which he called in at 12:32 a.m., according to a police report. Cruikshank said Jenkins fired twice, striking Valmond once in the chest. Valmond collapsed outside Del Sur Artisan Eats, a restaurant at the corner of Mallery Street and Ocean Boulevard, police said. She said video shows Jenkins tossing the gun in a flower bed outside Del Sur, which was closed at the time.
Witnesses reported seeing Jenkins leaving in a white SUV. Some people with emergency medical training happened to be on hand and proceeded to take life-saving measures on Valmond. County EMS workers arrived and continued CPR, but “were unable to revive Mr. Valmond,” Cruikshank said.
Police were on alert for Jenkins countywide when county police officer A.J. Clark recognized the white SUV at around 3:40 a.m. at U.S. 17 and Golden Isles Parkway. The county’s on-call detective that morning, Cruikshank said a handgun was recovered from the flower bed in front of Del Sur. Two 9 mm shell casings also were found in the area, she said. Cruikshank interviewed Jenkins shortly after he was taken into custody.
Jenkins allegedly told her that he is from Philadelphia, Penn., and that he “gets irritated” when confronted, Cruikshank said. “Eventually, in his words, he said, ‘I shot that guy,’” Cruikshank said. “He stated he felt like he needed to defend himself.”
That is when Jenkins allegedly told Cruikshank things may have gotten out of hand. “He said, ‘I will say this: I probably didn’t have to go to the measures that I went to,’” she said.
Valmond had more than eight years experience in law enforcement, first with the Norfolk, Va., Sheriff’s Office and then with Norfolk Police Department. He had joined the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency in November, assigned to its Baltimore, Md., field office. He was at FLETC for field operations training.
Cruikshank also questioned Kurmue. She said Kurmue allegedly recounted to her his questioning of Jenkins’ judgement after the shooting.
“Mr. Kurmue said, ‘Why did you fire the gun?,’” she testified. “’It (the dispute) didn’t even go that deep.’ He said Mr. Jenkins just looked at him blankly.”