2 arrested, booked for murder in shooting of man who was dining at L.A. Live soul-food restaurant

Carlos Granda Image
Friday, March 29, 2024
2 arrested for murder of man who was dining at LA Live restaurant
Two men have been arrested and charged in connection with the shooting death of a diner at a restaurant at L.A. Live, prosecutors announced.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Two men have been arrested and charged in connection with the shooting death of a diner in what authorities say was a targeted attack at an L.A. Live restaurant, prosecutors announced Thursday.

Phillip Pasco Clark, 33, of Los Angeles, and Santana Jermaine Kelly, 49, of Palmdale, were taken into custody March 22 by Los Angeles police following an investigation into the Nov. 28 slaying of Sidney Barrett Morris at the Fixins Soul Kitchen on Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said.

Clark allegedly walked into the restaurant and directly toward the 43- year-old victim, who was eating at the counter, and fatally shot him, then fled in a vehicle driven by a person whose identity has not been determined, according to the district attorney's office.

"Mr. Morris was murdered in what appears to be an unprovoked and targeted attack," Gascón said at a news conference.

A woman also sustained a graze wound and was treated at the restaurant, which is owned by former NBA star Kevin Johnson.

Kelly is accused of helping to plan the killing, providing supplies and support, and setting fire to the getaway vehicle a day later in an attempt to destroy evidence.

LA Live shooting: Man killed after gunfire erupts at downtown soul-food restaurant

Clark and Kelly are each charged with one count of murder and conspiracy to commit a crime, while Kelly is also facing a count of arson of the property of another.

Investigators say the suspects are documented gang members.

Officials described Morris as a community leader who was devoted to equity and diversity. Investigators say this was not a random act but wouldn't comment on a motive.

"We're still working through a bunch of leads and evidence to try to figure out exactly why this happened," LAPD Capt. Scot Williams said. "But at this time, we're not willing to release anything publicly right now."

The two defendants pleaded not guilty Tuesday and are due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom April 25. A date is scheduled to be set then for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to allow the case against them to proceed to trial.

If convicted as charged, both men could face potential life prison terms, prosecutors said.

Officials wanted to stress the shooting was not a random attack.

"It is safe to go to L.A. Live." Gascón said. "This was a very targeted event, and the police department and our office are working very hard to make sure that we hold those who are responsible accountable."

City News Service contributed to this report.