By: Kevin Buckles, Staff writer
The Los Angeles Police Department identified a 21-year-old Valley College football player as the man shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting May 12 at Universal Studios CityWalk.
James Renee White Jr., a wide receiver for the Monarchs, died shortly after the LAPD’s North Hollywood Division responded to a call at 1:15 a.m. that a crowd was causing a disturbance outside of the Infusion Lounge, according to LAPD Media Relations Officer Drake Madison.
The lounge was hosting a “Battle of the DJs” Sunday night when a fight broke out. According to eyewitness Mark Crawford, a friend of White’s, the fight was between a gang to which he and White belonged, and a rival outfit. Crawford said that after that altercation died down, he and White left the club to find the rival gang member who they thought started the fight and got into a second altercation, resulting in gunfire.
“I was DJing and a lot of guys were rumbling and fighting,” said DJ Phil to CBS Los Angeles. “And of course, you know, they start throwing bottles and this escalated and gunshots rang out.”
Crawford said another friend fired a single gunshot in the air following a scuffle that broke out between them and others outside of the club. Crawford said that White Jr. then followed suit and shot his .38 revolver into the air one time.
The LAPD stated that officers shot White Jr., who emerged from the fracas with a gun, and that it was not clear if he fired at the police or aimed his gun at them.
“The officers immediately sought cover and while in those positions of cover, they observed a suspect, an unknown male at this time, who was armed with a handgun,” LAPD Sgt. Barry Montgomery told the press the night of the shootings. The announcement confirmed that James White Jr. was the person who was shot and killed.”
No one else was injured from gunfire that night, though several people did suffer minor injuries as the crowd of a couple hundred ran for cover, according to the police.
Universal CityWalk released an official statement on the afternoon of May 12 regarding the incident that occurred earlier that day.
“As one of LA’s most visited family destinations, CityWalk will continue to provide the most comprehensive security available. We are committed to the safety and security of our guests and are working closely with law enforcement as their investigation unfolds in this isolated incident.”James White Jr. is survived by a mother, father, an older brother and twin sisters. He was on track to living a better life according to Crawford.
“[James] just wanted to get out,” Crawford said. “He didn’t care if he made it to the league [NFL] or not, he wanted to go and be one of the first in his family to do it.”
Valley College football player Al Thornton, who was also close friends with James, said, “He just wanted to go against statistics because he lost family members the same way, but it’s sad to say he was.”