ARLINGTON, Va. - FOX 5 has learned that Kent Carter - a prominent community leader and realtor from Arlington - was killed while on vacation in Turks and Caicos. The Arlington County NAACP confirms Carter was killed when a vehicle he was traveling in was ambushed.
Police in Turks and Caicos say the car was on its way back from an excursion when a group of men with guns opened fire on the vehicle - killing Carter - an innocent bystander.
"Just a really great, standup guy, you know? One of the best neighbors you could have," Robert York told FOX 5.
York lives next to Carter and was devastated to hear he was killed while on vacation.
"He and his family, just really great neighbors. So this is just incredibly sad news," York said.
Trevor Botting is the police commissioner in Turks and Caicos.
"These criminals began to indiscriminately shoot into the vehicle," Botting said in a recorded statement posted Monday.
Botting says a van Carter was riding in was attacked by gunmen. Carter was killed, and a staff member was injured.
Later, police found the vehicle involved and had a shootout with the gunmen — who were armed with automatic weapons.
Police believe one of the gunmen died during that shootout.
"Our deepest condolences go out to the family of those who were murdered," Botting said.
Carter spent time in executive leadership at the NAACP of Arlington County and was on the county’s police practices working group.
He was also an accomplished realtor.
Rachel Saathoff was a customer who says he was great to work with.
"I know that he has a young daughter, and I have a kiddo that lives with me as well, and we definitely bonded around. We got to work around school pickup, we got to work around homework time, things like that, as I was buying the house, and he was just so great about that," Saathoff said.
Police in Turks and Caicos are still investigating the shooting and looking for gunmen.
The police commissioner there says this was an indiscriminate shooting, linked to the drug supply and is fueled by revenge, turf wars, and retribution.
Julius D. "JD" Spain, Sr., President of the NAACP Arlington Branch, spoke with FOX 5's Melanie Alnwick Wednesday. "Mr. Carter was not only a friend but a true champion of civil rights and social justice," Spain told her. Spain said he knew Carter and his family for over a decade and called him, "a gentleman with a gentle heart."
Alnwick said Spain spoke with Carter's girlfriend who told him they were visiting the islands to celebrate his birthday and that they were on a hotel shuttle back from the beach when the shooting happened. Alnwick says Carter's girlfriend told Spain that the gunfire erupted suddenly and that Carter – who she said was a veteran and former special agent – immediately used his body to shield her.