Prosecutors have filed charges against a security guard and his wife after a dispute over a face mask at a Gardena market ended with a man being fatally shot, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.
Umeir Hawkins, 38, of Gardena, has been charged with one count each of murder and possession of a handgun by a felon, a DA’s news release stated.
His wife, 50-year-old Sabrina Carter, has also been charged with one count of possession of a handgun by a felon.
Both pleaded not guilty when they appeared in court Wednesday.
Hawkins is accused of fatally shooting 50-year-old Jerry Lewis after a verbal argument escalated on Sunday evening.
The incident began when Lewis apparently entered a market in the 2300 block of Rosecrans Avenue without a face covering. The lack of mask led to a confrontation between the defendant and the victim, according to the DA’s Office.
Lewis left the store but returned. The pair then began to fight, officials said.
That’s when Carter — who was in the parking lot as she waited for her husband to get off work — armed herself and pointed the gun at the victim and other customers, according to the Gardena Police Department. Her intervention caused the fight to end.
As Lewis was walking away, Hawkins produced a firearm and allegedly opened fire on the victim, hitting him in the lower part of his body, police said. Lewis died at the scene.
Hawkins and Carter were arrested the following day.
Both defendants have a previous assault conviction from 2013, according to the felony complaint.
Hawkins faces a possible maximum sentence of 50 years to life in prison if convicted. He was held on $1 million bail.
Carter faces up to 3 years in prison and her bail was set at $35,000.
The pair are scheduled to return to L.A. County Superior Court on Friday.