Security guard charged with murder after fighting man who refused to wear a mask

Masks have become a source of contention during the pandemic.

July 9, 2020, 5:54 PM

A security guard at a Southern California market fatally shot a man who refused to wear a mask, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.

Prosecutors said that Umeir Corniche Hawkins, 38, was charged with murder in the death of Jerry Lewis, 50, according to the district attorney.

Lewis entered the undisclosed market without a mask on July 5 and he and Hawkins got into an argument, officials said.

Lewis eventually returned to the market and fought with Hawkins, who then allegedly shot the victim as he walked away, according to prosecutors.

Masks, which some studies have proved may decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission, have become a major source of contention for some during the pandemic.

In California, masks are required statewide in most settings outside of the home.

Hawkins is also facing one count of possession of a handgun by a felon.

Sabrina Carter, Hawkin's wife, was also charged with possession of a handgun by a felon.

PHOTO: A crime scene is depicted in this undated stock image.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

Both Hawkins and Carter were convicted in 2013 for assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, according to the district attorney's office.

Police in Gardena, where the incident occurred, said that Carter was waiting in the parking lot of Hawkins to get off work. She had been armed with a handgun and pointed a gun at Lewis, causing the fight to end, police said.

Hawkins shot Lewis with his own firearm, according to police. Los Angeles County Fire responded to the scene and pronounced Lewis dead.

The two pleaded not guilty.

Hawkins' bail is set at $1 million, while Carter's is set at $35,000.

Both are scheduled to return on Friday to Los Angeles County Superior Court. There were no attorneys listed for Hawkins or Carter on the Los Angeles County Superior Court's website.

Police are still investigating and encouraged any witnesses to come forward.