The two suspects in Saturday's Fillmore District shooting that left one man dead and five people injured will not be facing murder charges because prosecutors say they were part of a gun battle that began with the dead man brandishing a weapon.
In a court hearing Wednesday seeking to detain the suspects without bail, Assistant District Attorney Michael Swart told the court the narrative that has emerged from the shootout outside the Fillmore Heritage Center. And he confirmed what representatives for the Center have been trying to deny: that the three men directly involved in the gun battle were all in attendance at the funeral reception inside.
As KPIX/CBS SF reports, according to court documents and via witnesses at the scene, suspects Jamare Coats, 26, and Sean Harrison, 25, were attendees at the funeral reception Saturday for Ron Newt — a "storied San Francisco pimp and businessman," according to Swart. The shooting victim, Mister Dee Carnell Simmons III of San Leandro, is alleged to have brandished a weapon during an argument with several people including the two suspects while inside the Center at the reception.
Coats and Harrison, along with an unnamed third man, then proceeded outside to a vehicle where they retrieved weapons. As the Examiner has it, Coats and Harrison returned to the sidewalk outside the Center where Simmons pulled out his gun. Security at the scene apparently made an attempt to stop them, but Harrison and Simmons then began shooting at each other. Simmons hit the ground wounded but continued to shoot, and Coats then allegedly shot at him as well.
Simmons died at the scene, while Harrison and Coats took off in a vehicle, ultimately ending up at an area hospital where Harrison was treated for a bullet wound. Per CBS, he appeared in court Wednesday with a crutch.
An innocent bystander, a 27-year-old who has yet to be identified, was shot in the back and is now paralyzed from the waist down.
In court Swart called the incident a "cruel and barbaric act," and while the DA's office has declined to pursue murder charges, per CBS he said, "from a moral standpoint, these two individuals are responsible for paralyzing the 27-year-old." Coats and Harrison will face weapons charges instead, and it's unclear what else.
The incident took place one block away from the SFPD's Northern Station, but a police spokesperson confirmed for the Examiner that police were not asked to perform security at the reception. District 5 Supervisor Vallie Brown tells the Ex, "There was a complete disconnect. There weren’t any police around and… the security wasn’t there." Brown added, "We had six people shot… that is pretty terrible for a neighborhood that hasn’t had that kind of violence in a long time."
The Fillmore Heritage Center is indefinitely closed now on the recommendation of the Entertainment Commission and the SFPD. Representatives for the New Community Leadership Foundation (NCLF), one of two non-profits that have been managing the center under a temporary lease since November, have maintained for days that the shooting participants had no connection with Newt's funeral reception. The NCLF and the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation are seeking an extension on their lease from the city, which expires on April 9.