LOCAL NEWS

Murder charge: Fight in club led to killing in Sugar House parking lot

Jan 16, 2024, 5:38 PM

One of two suspected gunmen accused of killing a man in a Sugar House parking lot in September was ...

One of two suspected gunmen accused of killing a man in a Sugar House parking lot in September was charged Tuesday with murder. (Salt Lake City Police Department)

(Salt Lake City Police Department)

SALT LAKE CITY — Prosecutors filed a murder charge Tuesday against one of two men accused of gunning down another man in a Sugar House parking lot in September.

Felix Diego-Rufino, 19, is charged in 3rd District Court with murder and six counts of discharge of a firearm causing serious injury, first-degree felonies; plus discharge of a firearm causing injury and obstruction of justice, second-degree felonies.

J’kye Lovell Ray Watkins, 18, was shot eight times in a Walgreens parking lot, 909 E. 2100 South, on Sept. 10.

Watkins was attending an end-of-the-summer party near 2000 South and 900 East with friends when he got into a fight with two other people. Watkins was taken out of the club by his friends who then tried to walk with him to a nearby McDonald’s. That’s when a dark sedan pulled up, according to charging documents.

“The driver had a gun and said to J’Kye, ‘You started this.’ (A witness) stated that she was standing near the driver with J’Kye behind her when she heard the first gunshots. This was followed by the driver and front seat passenger firing at J’Kye,” the charges state.

The account of a witness

Another witness told investigators that the “same males that J’Kye was fighting with are the same males who exited the vehicle and shot J’Kye in the Walgreens parking lot,” according to the charges.

At least one person said Watkins also pulled out a gun and shot at the suspects, the charges say. Salt Lake police reported recovering 18 shell casings at the scene, a few live rounds, and a damaged handgun next to Watkins’ body.

Diego-Rufino and the other gunman threatened the other people they were with “to keep their mouths shut or they would come back at them,” the charges allege. Witnesses say one of the gunmen also bragged, “I smoke big boy bullets only.”

“Detectives located social media conversations after the shooting,” including messages about burning the hoodies everyone was wearing that day, according to the charging documents. The messages named the victim and stated “there is a video and how they need to find the video and get rid of it.

“After the shooting, the defendant went to great lengths to cover up his involvement, including trading in his vehicle for a new one,” the charges state.

As of Tuesday, police were still searching for the second gunman.

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Murder charge: Fight in club led to killing in Sugar House parking lot