An African-American musician was killed in an alleged hate crime nearby a pool hall in El Sobrante, California.
Singer, guitarist and piano player William Sims, 28, was found beaten and shot to death on Nov. 12, SF Gate reports.
Authorities arrested Daniel Porter-Kelly, a 31-year-old white male, on Nov. 16 and charged him with murder, robbery and committing a racially motivated crime for Sims’ murder. The addition of the hate crime makes Porter-Kelly eligible for the death penalty, if convicted.
Contra Costa County sheriffs are still searching for two other white men they believe were involved in the murder: Ray Simons, 32, and Daniel Ortega, 31.
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Investigators believe Sims was jumped, robbed, beaten, and then shot when he tried to escape from his attackers nearby the Capri Club pool hall. A sheriff's sergeant found his body just after 2 a.m., and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sims' relatives and friends described him as a generous, friendly man who never harmed anyone.
“He was a very kind and loving person,” said his sister, Stacey Sims. “He loved music. He loved making friends. He was the best brother a sister could ever have. It’s been very difficult. It still seems unreal.”
“We want to have justice,” Sims’ father, Bill Sims, said. “It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. He was not aggressive. He was never involved in any violence. He was always trying to befriend people, maybe to a fault.”
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Sims did not have any ties to gangs or a criminal history, according to sheriff's office spokesman Jimmy Lee.
Residents of the neighborhood are surprised by the news that Porter-Kelly, Simons and Ortega, may have committed murder.
“I would never expect that type of behavior out of them,” Anthony Rayford, a local construction worker who was friends with all three suspects and would employ them on occasion, said. “Every time they’ve worked with me and for me, I’ve never had any trouble with any of them. Always on time and hard workers ... It’s hard for me to swallow that they would be charged for this.”
“He’s been nothing but polite, helpful and friendly,” Laura Dimond, who lives next door to Ortega’s mother, said of the suspect. “I’m shocked to hear this, really.”
On Nov. 18, police arrested Ortega's mother, 54-year-old Renee Brown, on suspicion of interfering with the investigation when authorities raided her home in pursuit of her son.
Investigators reportedly used surveillance camera footage from Appian Food and Liquor, across the street from the Capri Club, and the local library to identify the suspects.
A “Candle Light Vigil: Justice For Will Sims” will be held on Nov. 27 to “mourn the loss of the beautiful soul of Will Sims,” according to a Facebook event page. The event is also focused on raising awareness of Sims' murder as a hate crime.
“I would like to invite family, friends, and community to gather in memory of Will and to bring light to his amazing life, and also to demand justice as 2 alleged suspects are still on the loose,” Kev Choice wrote on the event page.
"Will was an amazing pianist, vocalist, producer, all around musician, and great person,” he wrote. “His life and light will be missed dearly. Bring a candle, kind words, a song, or any offering, as we gather in peace and stand against the heinous nature of this crime and stand as a community in support of the family and justice for Will Sims. We will not be silent, we will not stand idle.”
Sources: SF Gate, Candle Light Vigil: Justice for Will Sims/Facebook / Photo credit: Facebook via Daily Mail