An admitted gang member said in court today that he, not his co-defendant, was the person who fired multiple shots at a restaurant near Oakland’s Jack London Square three years ago that killed two people and wounded five others. Lamar Fox, 25, claimed responsibility for the shooting at Sweet Jimmie’s at 311 Broadway at 12:42 a.m. on April 25, 2011, after being sentenced this morning to life in prison without the possibility of parole. “There’s been a lot of lying going on and I want to tell the truth,” Fox said in court.
Prosecutor Tim Wellman argued at the trial of Fox and co-defendant Clem Thompkins, 25, last fall that Thompkins, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole three weeks ago, carried out the shooting but Fox was equally responsible because he drove to and from the scene and supplied the gun that was used. But Fox, who was shackled, dressed in a red jail uniform and sported gang tattoos, said, “It wasn’t Clem Thompkins, it was me because I thought I saw someone going into Sweet Jimmie’s with a gun.” Fox said, “It was all me and I made the wrong judgment call.” He said, “Clem didn’t do anything.”
Wellman said during the trial that Thompkins and Fox belong to the Lower Bottoms gang in West Oakland and that the purpose of the shooting was to avenge a confrontation they and several colleagues had with a member of the rival Acorn gang at another nearby restaurant a short time earlier. Wellman said that after an Acorn member flashed a gun in the initial confrontation, Fox, Thompkins and several colleagues drove to Fox’s home in East Oakland to get Fox’s gun and then returned to the Jack London Square area to look for the rival member. The prosecutor said none of the shooting victims were affiliated with a gang and alleged that Thompkins fired 10 shots into the restaurant to promote himself and his gang and to support Fox after Fox got into an altercation with several people at the restaurant’s entrance. Killed in the shooting were William Jenkins, 27, of Oakland, and 22-year-old Adam Williams, of San Leandro, who both had young children.
Williams was an after-school teacher’s aide at Peralta Elementary School in Oakland. Five other people were wounded in the shooting, four of them seriously, but they all survived. Thompkins and Fox both were convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, five counts of attempted murder and the special circumstance of multiple murders. Referring to Fox’s 11th hour statement that he was the shooter, Wellman, a veteran prosecutor who has handled many high-profile murder cases, said during a break in today’s hearing that “I’ve never seen this before.” Wellman said he doesn’t think Fox told the truth today and believes that Fox was “putting on a show” and belatedly claiming responsibility in order to protect Thompkins. After Fox’s initial statement, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Vernon Nakahara ordered Fox to be sworn in as a witness and allowed Wellman and Thompkin’s lawyer, Darryl Billups, to cross-examine him. Fox admitted to Wellman that he belongs to the Lower Bottoms Gang but said he doesn’t know if Thompkins is a member even though the two of them are best friends.
Fox conceded that he told Oakland police after the shooting that Thompkins was the shooter but said he was just trying to minimize his responsibility so he wouldn’t spend much time in jail. He said, “What man in my position wouldn’t want to sit up there and lie?” Fox said he bears all of the responsibility for the shooting because he was the one who got into the initial confrontation with the Acorn member and “I got my gun at my house.” Fox said when he, Thompkins and several colleagues returned to the Jack London Square area, he stayed in his car while his associates went to the entrance of Sweet Jimmie’s, then got out and opened fire because he thought a man in another group of people was going to shoot at his colleagues. “A man in the other group was lifting up his shirt like he had a pistol,” Fox said. However, Fox admitted to Wellman that he never actually saw the man pull out a gun. Billups argued during the trial that he believes witnesses who identified Thompkins as the gunman were mistaken because Thompkins and Fox looked alike because they’re about the same size and had similar clothing and hairstyles that night.
Billups said today that he thinks Fox’s statement that he was the shooter is credible because Fox, not Thompkins, was the person who was involved in the initial confrontation with the Acorn member and was the one most motivated to carry out the shooting. Billups told Judge Nakahara that he wants to file a motion for a new trial for Thompkins based on Fox’s statement, but Nakahara said he agrees with Wellman that because Thompkins already has been sentenced, he’s not entitled to a new trial. However, Thompkins and Fox both plan to appeal their convictions. Wellman said after the hearing that he doesn’t think Fox’s statement changes anything and the case was over when jurors returned their guilty verdicts in November. Fox’s lawyer, Deborah Levy, said she doesn’t think Fox’s comments are true and she believes Fox was only trying to “protect himself and show his loyalty to Thompkins.”
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