OAKLAND -- A gangster convicted as an accomplice to the 2011 Jack London Square bar shooting that killed two and wounded five surprised an Oakland courtroom Thursday when he claimed that he -- and not his best friend -- fired the assault rifle that bloody night.
Lamar Fox, 25, testified that he was the killer at Sweet Jimmie's bar and restaurant on April 25, 2011, after being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. His fellow West Oakland gang member Clem Thompkins was convicted as the gunman and received the same sentence in March.
"Clem Thompkins didn't do anything; it was all me," Fox said. "Everyone lied. I lied.
"I came to a conclusion: I might as well tell the truth about what happened that night," Fox said.
Prosecutor Tim Wellman said Fox's new account of the tragedy conflicts with witness accounts and the physical evidence showing Thompkins as the shooter. He said Fox "put on a show to protect his fellow gang member."
Thompkins and Fox were convicted side by side last year of two counts of first-degree murder, five counts of attempted murder, and gang and gun enhancements, and Thompkins was convicted alone of a charge enhancement for personally using a firearm.
The prosecution's evidence showed that the duo and two friends went to the bar looking for a rival gang member who flashed a gun at them earlier that night. Fox began arguing with a group of men outside, at which point Thompkins jumped out of a car and fired at least 10 rounds inside the bar. Adam Williams, 22, of San Leandro, and Bill Jenkins, 26, of Oakland, were killed, and five others survived with lasting injuries of various degrees. None of the victims were affiliated with any gang.
Thompkins' attorney, Darryl Billups, argued at trial that it was Fox who shot the gun that night. Given Fox's statement at sentencing, Billups said he will be filing a motion for a new trial for his client. Deborah Levy, Fox's attorney, argued that Fox had no prior knowledge that Thompkins was going to shoot anyone. On Thursday, Fox said it was Thompkins who was in the dark, and wouldn't even concede knowledge of whether his best friend was in the same gang.
"What man in my position wouldn't sit up there and lie?" Fox said of his prior statements.
Fox also apologized to the family members of the victim. He said he was drunk that night and fired in response to a mere suspicion that one of the men outside the bar had a gun. When he saw who was killed and wounded on the TV news the next day, Fox said, he ran to a toilet and vomited.
Prince Wilson, stepfather of Williams, said he watched every day of the trial and that Fox is clearly lying about being the shooter to appease and protect his friend.
"He's been lying from the beginning. He doesn't want to be labeled a snitch," Wilson said. "This was a senseless killing, and our son lost his life. I hope the judge is going to do more to keep gang members off the streets."
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.