Witness: Christopher Reynolds’ shooting of Ernest Hoskins did not appear accidental

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Less than two months after 21-year-old Ernest Hoskins was shot to death by his boss during a lunch meeting at the boss’ home, an eyewitness has come forward in an exclusive interview with theGrio, to describe what she saw.

TheGrio spoke with Rachel Watson by satellite on Monday. She was inside the home, and standing near Hoskins, when he was shot.

Christopher Reynolds, 34, was arrested on first degree murder and assault charges in November, nearly three weeks after he shot Hoskins to death inside his Ward, Arkansas home. According to the arrest affidavit issued by the circuit court in Lonoke County, Arkansas, Reynolds told police he pointed the .44 magnum Desert Eagle semi-automatic pistol at Hoskins as the two discussed Hoskins’ sales figures, and that after cocking the gun once and pulling the trigger — and the gun failing to go off — Reynolds “pulled the slide back on the pistol” and it went off, striking Hoskins in the face. He died at the scene.

His widow, Nikki Hoskins, and his mother went public with the case after police initially failed to arrest Reynolds. Nikki Hoskins said she and her husband, who were newly married, considered their relationship with Reynolds to be good prior to the shooting.

Watson told theGrio she attended the meeting at Reynolds’ home in order to interview for a job at his company, Raynell Industries, and that the meeting was the first time she had met either Reynolds or Hoskins.

She said the group of five were in Reynolds’ kitchen when the discussion between him and Hoskins began, and that at no time did she hear Reynolds threaten Hoskins. However, Watson was clear that the shooting did not appear accidental. She described Reynolds taking the pistol out from a basket in the kitchen and pointing it at Hoskins, deliberately pulling the trigger twice. Watson said that after the shooting, Reynolds left the room to retrieve a towel, “because [Hoskins] was bleeding.” She said that while the other employees fled the room, she remained behind to see if she could help Hoskins, but that it was clear to her that he was dead.

Watson said she came forward, first to Nikki Hoskins, and now publicly, because “if it were me I would want someone to come forward and tell me what happened.”

Reynolds attended an early morning hearing Monday. Tuesday would have been Hoskins 22nd birthday, and family members and supporters planned a rally Monday night demanding justice in the case.

Reached by theGrio Monday, Reynolds’ attorney’s office said his practice was not to discuss cases with the media.

The Lonoke County prosecutors office said no one was available to comment.

Follow Joy Reid on Twitter at @TheReidReport