LA Forensics: The Sandwich Shop Murders
Good Kids, Great Families
Unfortunately, James White had died about four hours after he was shot. He'd been held on life support just long enough for his parents to come in and take their leave. The police had known he probably would not survive long with a bullet in his brain, but they'd held out hope he might revive long enough to describe his attacker.
The following day, as the police proceeded with the investigation, the Los Angeles Times reported that the victims had been childhood friends, having met each other in the fourth grade. With a third friend, they'd been known around school as the Three Musketeers. Brian Berry and James White did everything together and each of their families considered the other boy to be like another son or brother. One of the most deeply affected by the tragedy was Brian's twin sister, home alone that night when Detective Richardson delivered the bad news. She later said that she had felt a sudden pain in her head that night and believed her bond with her brother was such that she had experienced him being shot.
James had been the eldest of three children and he loved music. He had hoped to get certification one day to teach social science. Both young men had graduated from Granada Hills High School and James was earning money to go to Pierce College, while Brian worked as a welder in a trailer hitch shop.
James had been employed at the Sandwich shop for only a few months. He had been cleaning the place in preparation for the 2:00 A.M. closing, and Brian had dropped by to chat and assist, so they could hang out together afterward. Then the shooter came into the store. By all appearances, they had cooperated with his demands, emptying the cash register and opening the safe. Nevertheless, he shot them both in the head, execution style, before fleeing the store.