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Suspect in Panhandler’s Death Released

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Van Nuys man arrested last week on murder charges after allegedly shooting a panhandler at a Van Nuys gas station was released from jail Tuesday after prosecutors requested further investigation.

Charles Hoyle, 25, was accused of shooting Reggie McKay, 25, twice Thursday night after Hoyle refused to give money to a group of five men, authorities said. Hoyle fled the station but was arrested the following morning. He told police that he fired his weapon in self-defense.

“We asked for further investigation because we are not sure we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt he was not acting in self-defense,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Larry Diamond said.

Hoyle drove to a gas station on Sherman Way, police said, where he was approached by a group of panhandlers. After denying them money, Hoyle went inside to pay $8 for gas.

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The station attendant told police that he heard a threat being yelled from outside and that McKay “had threatened people in the past,” Diamond said.

Witnesses have also told investigators that McKay told the other panhandlers that he thought Hoyle was armed, leading one of them to give him a screwdriver. Sources said McKay put the tool into his back pocket.

When Hoyle returned to his car, the group of panhandlers confronted him again, Diamond said. The attendant reported that McKay rushed at Hoyle “as if to attack.”

Hoyle allegedly fired two shots and McKay died soon afterward. The screwdriver was never found.

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“We’re still investigating whether or not the victim had used the screwdriver or had had it out,” Diamond said. “All we know is the screwdriver disappeared.”

Prosecutors hope detectives can collect the additional evidence they need to make a decision later this week.

“All we’ve done is decided not to decide because more questions need to be answered,” Diamond said.


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