Victim killed in botched robbery at Fashion Island was visiting from New Zealand

ByMónica De Anda and David González KABC logo
Wednesday, July 3, 2024
Victim killed in botched robbery was visiting from New Zealand
A woman who was struck and killed by a suspect's vehicle during a botched robbery in Newport Beach has been identified as a 68-year-old tourist from New Zealand.

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- A woman who was struck and killed by a suspect's vehicle during a botched robbery attempt at Newport Beach's Fashion Island has been identified as a 68-year-old tourist visiting from New Zealand. The names of three suspects in custody were also released Wednesday.

The Orange County coroner's office identified the woman as Patricia McKay.

The suspects were identified as Jaden Cunningham, 18, of Lancaster, Malachi Eddward Darnell, 18, of Los Angeles, and Leroyernest Joseph McCrary, 26, of Compton, according to the Newport Beach Police Department. All three were booked on suspicion of homicide, robbery with firearm and conspiracy.

The deadly incident unfolded Tuesday around 3:30 p.m. in the area near the popular shopping mall's Barnes & Noble bookstore.

A 69-year-old woman was fatally struck by a suspect's car after she and her husband were robbed Tuesday afternoon at Fashion Island in Newport Beach, police said.

According to the Newport Beach Police Department, McKay and her husband were walking when two suspects approached them and tried to rob the couple. There was a struggle, and at one point one of the suspects dragged the woman to the street during the robbery, police said during a press conference Tuesday.

The suspects attempted to flee in a white Toyota Camry.

"One of the suspects ran while the vehicle fled and actually struck the female victim," said Officer Steve Oberon, a Police Department spokesman. "The male suspect that ran got back into the vehicle, at which point some rounds were fired from a handgun and the vehicle fled the scene."

The three suspects were taken into custody after a brief pursuit: One was arrested in Cypress and two others were arrested in South Gate, authorities said. Initial reports that the woman had been shot were unfounded. Investigators later confirmed she had been fatally struck by the Camry. No one was struck by gunfire, police said.

Oberon said the McKay's husband was not believed to have been injured.

Arrests shock quiet neighborhood

Bob Safreed's peaceful neighborhood in Cypress was rocked on Tuesday afternoon as Newport Beach police officers closed in on the suspects.

He saw it all.

"They were right down here, he was hiding in the bushes right here in the flowers," Safreed said about one of the suspects. "Evidently, he got out of the car here and he ran in the yard and was trying to hide, and this is where they were. I went to the window, and I looked up and there's a police officer, and he had a rifle pointed at the house. My wife was here on the couch and I said, 'If they get in a fire fight here, it's going to come right through this house here.'"

Across the street, Rita Ireland saw the same commotion.

"They could have walked in the house because I had it just wide open," she said. "Just trying to get fresh air, so it really scared me just to know that the front door was wide open and all the windows were open and they could have chose here to run in instead of hide in their yard or in their house."

The shocking crime left many in disbelief.

"I feel sad for our visitors to come here and it's just not safe anywhere," Ireland said.

Safreed added, "We're allowing these people on the streets with guns and crime. Fortunately, these cops around here don't put up with it, but they put up with it in Los Angeles and New York and all over the place, but local officers around here, they're top notch. They keep an eye on stuff. They're good people."

Who was Patricia McKay? New Zealand officials speak out

Desley Simpson, the Deputy Mayor of Auckland, New Zealand, shared her condolences to McKay's family on Facebook, saying she was "in absolute shock."

According to Simpson, Patricia McKay was the wife of Doug McKay, a prominent Auckland businessman.

"Trish was amazing - funny, loyal, and loving. My absolute deepest sympathies to Doug and her family ... In absolute shock."

New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon also spoke out on X, calling the couple, "great people."

We have to do better as a society. We cannot tolerate this
Newport Beach Mayor Will O'Neill

On Tuesday, Newport Beach Mayor Will O'Neill lashed out at the suspects during a news conference, calling them "creeps'' and decrying the "stunning, staggering'' attack.

"Newport Beach is a safe community and we're mourning the loss of someone,'' he said. "Frankly, to hell with these guys ... These are thugs. Every community is now dealing with this. We have to do better as a society. We cannot tolerate this.''

O'Neill praised law enforcement officers for collaring the three suspects, but he said, "None of that brings her back.''

O'Neill emphasized that the mall's owners have "phenomenal security,' insisting that it is a safe place for shoppers. "Frankly, I would have no problem coming back here with my family,'' he said.

City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.