Saturday's fatal shooting on Fillmore Street, outside the Fillmore Heritage Center, happened at the same time as a funeral reception was happening there for a local music entrepreneur who called himself a reformed pimp and "drug kingpin." The incident has shut down the struggling Center once again.
The shooting near the intersection of Fillmore and Eddy, which left five people injured and took the life of a 25-year-old San Leandro man, happened only coincidentally (say facility representatives) at the same time as a funeral reception for Ron Newt — a local businessman and self-styled music mogul who was a noted Michael Jackson defender and once tried to sue the creators of Empire because he said they stole his life story. (That suit was dismissed in 2016.)
Majeid Crawford, a co-manager of the Fillmore Heritage Center, told the Examiner on Monday that the reception attendees were primarily senior citizens, and the timing of the shooting was just an "awful coincidence."
As the Examiner is reporting, District 5 Supervisor Vallie Brown addressed a community meeting Tuesday night at the Fillmore Heritage Center, and said that all events have been canceled at the Center until the city decides on next steps.
After sitting dark for several years following the closing of Yoshi's, the Center just reopened in November under a six-month lease, and it's being managed jointly by the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation and the New Community Leadership Foundation (NCLF). The plan was to bring both music and community events to the space, as well as housing and empowerment workshops, as the Chronicle reported at the time.
Rico Hamilton, the head of the NCLF, spoke at the meeting Tuesday night and pushed back on suggestions that Newt's funeral had anything to do with the shooting. Per the Examiner, Hamilton said, "We have done everything we possibly can do to avoid violence."
A neighborhood resident who campaigned to reopen the Center, Charles Powell, told the meeting attendees otherwise, however. "You know whose funeral was Saturday. You know who that man was," Powell said, according to the Examiner. "You know 1,000 people was coming down on the corridor… You should have had the police down here that day."
KRON 4 reports that two suspects have been arrested in connection with the shooting, one of whom was himself injured. 25-year-old Sean Harrison of Concord and 26-year-old Jamare Coats of San Francisco were both booked by the SFPD on homicide and firearm charges after Coats drove Harrison, who was injured by a bullet, to the hospital.
Also injured in the shooting, per the Examiner, were a 19-year-old man from Westminster, California, a 51-year-old woman from Alameda, and a 51-year-old man from San Francisco, all of whom are expected to survive. A 27-year-old man whose name has not been released remains in life-threatening condition.
25-year-old Mister Dee Carnell Simmons III of San Leandro died at the scene.
Ron Newt, a self-described onetime "gangsta pimp," was a colorful figure in San Francisco, and he died two weeks ago at the age of 69. Most recently, in September 2018, Newt was attempting to break into the legal cannabis business, and he told the Bay City Beacon that he planned to fight to open his Taraval Street dispensary, called Happy Herbs, despite city pushback.
Newt self-published multiple memoirs about his life in the criminal underworld, rising to become a major drug kingpin who rubbed shoulders with pop stars and politicians. In the late 80s, Newt came clean and abandoned his life of crime to manage his sons’ budding musical group, the Newtrons. The Newtrons toured the country and released several albums before disbanding in the late 1990s.
Newt's sons were reportedly at one point signed to Jackson Records, the record label launched by Jackson family patriarch Joe Jackson. Newt wrote his own obituary for Michael Jackson back in 2009, which he talked about in this YouTube interview. And in the 2016 VladTV interview below, Newt talks about an alleged $200,000 bribe he was offered to make false claims about Michael Jackson "touching" his own children.