Newport News man sentenced to Life for execution style killing

[April 26, 2024] – Today a 35-year-old Newport News man was sentenced to Life in prison for an execution style killing inside an Exxon gas station in 2019.

Luis Zambrana Jr., 20, was standing in line to buy a soda inside the gas station on September 16, 2019, when Elijah Armstrong ran up behind him and shot him in the head and back, which was captured on surveillance video. Mr. Zambrana had never met Armstrong before. Armstrong then fled the scene. He took an Uber lift to Hampton and is accused of killing the Uber driver in Hampton. Armstrong is still facing charges in that shooting.

Judge Gary Mills sentenced Armstrong to life in prison for the first degree murder and three years, as statutorily required, for the use of the firearm. Judge Mills called the surveillance video of the murder “haunting” and noted the significant loss to both the victim’s and defendant’s families.

Mr. Zambrana’s family described him to the judge as kind, caring person, the “sunshine on a cloudy day” and the light in a dark room. Mr. Zambrana played piano for his church’s youth choir and was an aspiring actor attending Norfolk State University. His parents have started a scholarship in his name for aspiring actors at NSU.

“This result can never truly make Mr. Zambrana’s family whole again, but we hope it brings them some measure of justice and closure,” said Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn. “Our community is safer when people are held accountable for their actions.”

This case was prosecuted on behalf of the Commonwealth by Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys Jennifer Titter and Quwanisha Roman.

Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney
Phone: 757-926-7443
2501 Washington Avenue, 6th Floor
Newport News, VA 23607

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The Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney prosecutes criminal cases that occur within the City of Newport News, on behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth. The elected Commonwealth’s Attorney is Mr. Howard E. Gwynn.