Suspect arrested in deadly Black Friday mall shooting

An 18-year-old was arrested in the shooting that killed two brothers, police said


By Sam Stanton, Darrell Smith, and Michael McGough
The Sacramento Bee

SACRAMENTO — As Sacramento police announced they had arrested a suspect in Friday's double homicide at Arden Fair mall, video footage of the encounter surfaced Monday showing both sides had handguns and fired at each other as bystanders ran for their lives.

Police said Damario Laron Beck, 18, is suspected of the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Dewayne James Jr. and his 17-year-old brother Sa'Quan Reed-James. The pair were Black Friday shopping at the mall before gunfight, family members said in a weekend vigil.

Police stand outside Arden Fair Mall after a shooting, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020, in Sacramento, Calif.
Police stand outside Arden Fair Mall after a shooting, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020, in Sacramento, Calif. (Police stand outside Arden Fair Mall after a shooting, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020, in Sacramento, Calif. (Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee via AP))

Police said in a statement that the shooting appears to have resulted "from a verbal altercation between two groups of people that were known to each other from prior interactions," though the precise nature of those earlier interactions was not immediately clear.

The family reiterated Monday that the brothers were not in a gang. A law enforcement source told The Sacramento Bee neither group had gang ties, and that the confrontation may have been sparked by previous interactions.

The department says the investigation is continuing, with additional witnesses and other "involved parties" still needing to be interviewed.

But video of the confrontation, reviewed exclusively by The Bee, shows the shooting occurred after two groups of young men — one in each group armed with a handgun — began a verbal dispute inside the mall just after 6 p.m. Friday. A source allowed The Bee to view the video but declined to provide a copy because they were not authorized to do so.

Groups exchanged words before shooting

The group that included the James brothers had six people in it and can be seen on the video stopping at two Sheikh Jewelers kiosks toward the west end of the mall.

A second group of four young men enter and within minutes the two sides appear to be speaking to each other and moving through the mall toward the exit near the Forever 21 shop.

The group of four men make it to the exit, then turn and head back into the mall, where a young man identified by a source as Sa'Quan Reed-James walks in between that group and the exit, and begins talking to them from a distance of several feet.

One of the men in the second group pulls a black semiautomatic handgun out from under a jacket and fires once at Reed-James, who crumples onto a mat at the exit after being struck.

A man identified by a source as Dewayne James Jr. then pulls a silver handgun out of his waistband and fires a single shot before the other gunman empties his clip at James, firing at least nine shots.

James crashes through the window of an empty storefront as the gunman and others in his group run out the door.

Two young girls standing directly between the groups — one who had been peering down at her cellphone — then flee for safety as other shoppers run for safety.

A spokesman for Arden Fair, which has some of the most intense security among malls in the region, declined to comment Monday.

'I have no bad memories. Only good.'

But the video surfaced as police announced the arrests and the parents of the two brothers spoke outside police headquarters Monday in an emotional news conference.

"They were best friends," father Dewayne James Sr. said. "They were good guys. You want to know about me and my kids, you can go onto my social media. You'll see the light those kids had."

James said his family moved to Sacramento from Monroe, Louisiana, for "more opportunity, more choices. We came here to change my life."

"My boys were loved," added their mother, Jayda James. "They weren't living a bad life. I have no bad memories. Only good."

Jamilia Land, a spokeswoman for the family, said the victims' parents had not yet seen the video but wanted to. She said that family members did not know of either of the young men having access to a handgun.

"As of today, we have no knowledge of either boy possessing a firearm," she told The Sacramento Bee following the news conference.

Video used to track down suspect

Sacramento Police spokeswoman Sgt. Sabrina Briggs told The Bee in an email that the department "does have a liaison who has been working with the family of the victims," but did not say whether the family would be allowed to see the video.

"This is still an active investigation," Briggs wrote. "Detectives are still interviewing witnesses and any other people who may have been involved in this incident.

"In order to protect the integrity of this investigation the information released is what we can release at this time. As the investigation allows more information will be released."

A law enforcement source confirmed officials had seen the video and used security footage from around the mall to track down a suspect in the shooting.

The teens' father said during the news conference that he doesn't harbor ill will toward Beck, the suspected gunman.

"I forgive you, son. I want your parents to know that I don't hate you," he said, holding back tears. "I wish you would've chose another route."

Beck, who had indicated on social media he was originally from St. Louis, has no record in Sacramento Superior Court records and a law enforcement source said there is no evidence of any gang ties or other criminal activity.

Beck's name did not appear in Sacramento County jail booking logs as of Monday evening. Police did not detail the exact charges, but said Beck "has been identified as the shooter."

Mayor: 'It's not the mall's fault'

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said Monday that he had not seen the video but had been briefed by police as the investigation continues. He did not want to make any comments that could jeopardize the case.

"I'm both sad and angry about it," he said. "I'm very sad for the loss of life and for the suffering of families and for the community that suffers real trauma here.

"And I'm angry about the reality in modern-day America that so many teenagers have guns. It is insanity."

Steinberg added that efforts by some to blame Arden Fair for the shooting are misguided.

"It's not the mall's fault," he said. "It's not the mall's fault. This could have happened anywhere.

"All of this finger-pointing is really just such a sign of the times, and yet it's harmful. It makes an already difficult and painful situation worse. The fact of the matter is somebody used firearms to shoot and kill in a public place.

"That ought to be unacceptable at any level."

(c)2020 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

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