Dewayne James Sr., moved his family from Monroe, Louisiana, to the city of Sacramento for expanded opportunities and a better way of life he felt was not happening for them in the deep South.

Dewayne James Sr., was emotional after the arrest of his sons’ alleged killers at the Sacramento Public Safety Center on Nov. 30. Sa’Quan Reed-James, 17, and Dewayne James Jr., 19, were killed on Black Friday at Arden Fair Mall the day after the Thanksgiving holiday. (OBSERVER photo by ANTONIO R. HARVEY)

At one point, he said, it was really happening out here on the West Coast for his sons Sa’Quan Reed-James, 17, and Dewayne James Jr., 19.

Today, James and his wife Jayda James will have to transport their sons’ remains back to Louisiana, where they will be buried. Sa’Quan and Dewayne were shot and killed at Arden Fair Mall on Nov. 27.

“I lost my boys. They were good boys. I brought them a long way from Louisiana, we’ve been here a year. I took my kids out of that type of environment to bring them here to something bigger and better,” Dewayne James Sr. said.

“I love Sacramento. Don’t get me wrong. But there’s a big hole in my heart now. Because my boys lost their lives under my watch here.”

Damario Beck, 18, has been arrested in connection with the Black Friday Arden Fair Mall shooting. The Sacramento Police Department says Beck is identified as the alleged shooter.

Beck is currently incarcerated, without bail, at the Sacramento County jail on two preliminary counts of murder, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

“Based on the preliminary investigation, the shooting resulted from a verbal altercation between two groups of people that were known to each other from prior interactions,” SPD stated on its Twitter page.

On Nov. 27, at approximately 6:11 p.m., Sacramento Police Department patrol officers responded to the 1600 block of Arden Way for a report of shots fired. When officers arrived on the scene, they located the brothers that had been shot.

Sa’Quan Reed-James was transported to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries. Despite the efforts of medical personnel, he succumbed to the injuries and was pronounced deceased hours later.

The other victim, Dewayne James Jr., sustained life-threatening injuries from the shooting and was pronounced deceased on the scene by fire personnel. The front entrance of the mall, near 21 Forever clothing boutique, is where the brothers were found with gunshot wounds.

The Sacramento region has been rocked by a series of shootings within the last seven months, many involving area youth. The year 2020 is in stark contrast to the previous 24 months where the area did not lose one youth to gun violence.

In early October, 9-year-old Maykaylah Brent died in Del Paso Heights’ Mama Marks Park after a shooter was there targeting another individual. A woman and Makaylah’s 7-year-old cousin were injured in the shooting.

That same day, Jaylen Betschart, 17, was shot and killed on Jackson road. The Sacramento Charter High School student was found after his car crashed into a pole. Officers on the scene, who tried saving his life, discovered that he was shot at least once.

The shooters have been apprehended in Brent’s and Betschart’s cases.
Two more shootings took place, one in the Arden Arcade area and another in North Sacramento near the 3400 block of Mabel Street. A gunman shot shoppers at Afgan market, injuring three people. The shooter turned the gun himself, which killed him.

In June, within a three-week period, the city of Sacramento had been the scene of more than 17 shootings, 30 victims, and nine homicides. Officials at the Sacramento Police Department attributed the crimes to gang activities.
As of June 24, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department reported that 43 shootings have occurred since late May. Many of the shootings involved juveniles, though none were listed as fatalities.

The gun violence has taken its toll on the Black community of Sacramento to the point that numerous grassroots organizations have pleaded to the individuals and factions holding firearms.

“We can’t be enemies to each other no more. Too many lives are being taken. It’s time to let it go,” said Greg King of Always Knocking Inc., at an anti-violence rally in Cesar Chavez Park after the October shootings.

Shooting violence has increased during the COVID-19 era in Sacramento.

SPD police chief Daniel Hahn and his administration point to several areas of concern, including idleness and lack of after-school activities.

“We’ve had a city that hasn’t had any juvenile murders for two years now. This year so far we already have four,” Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said the day Beck, Nov. 30, was arrested in the Arden Fair Mall shooting.

The elder James is preparing to transport the teens back to their final resting place in Monroe, Louisiana. It has been an emotional experience for the family but they have been getting overwhelming support.

Police and prison reform activist Jamilia Land and local social activist Leia Schenk, who James says are “part of my team,” have been supporting the family. Land and Schenk have provided support such as counseling, shelter and food.

As for the alleged shooter, James Sr., says he has nothing but forgiveness for Beck.

“I forgive you, son … you know what I’m saying? I’m sorry that you have to go through this and your parents have to go through this bro. And I want your parents to know I don’t hate you. I don’t have nothing bad to say about you bro,” the grieving father said.

By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer