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Man Killed During Fight at Restaurant

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A 23-year-old Ventura man died Saturday after being shot in the head during a fight over a broken car window outside a crowded beachfront restaurant, police said.

Steven Dale Jenkins died about 7:15 a.m. at Ventura County Medical Center, Ventura Police Lt. Skip Young said.

Police arrested Jose Basillo Martinez Jr., 19, of Ventura on suspicion of shooting Jenkins Friday night during an argument with a group of patrons from Juro’ Cho’s Sushi outside the restaurant in the 1100 block of Seaward Avenue, Young said.

Martinez was being held Saturday in Ventura County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail on charges of attempted murder. Young said police will ask the district attorney’s office to upgrade the charges to murder.

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Young said a preliminary investigation revealed that Martinez has no prior criminal history so authorities are puzzled why a vandalism incident turned deadly.

The incident began about 9:30 p.m. when Martinez was confronted by patrons from Juro’ Cho’s and other south Seaward businesses complaining about his erratic driving and the Limp Bizkit music blaring from his blue 1990 Honda Accord.

During the confrontation a brick or a beer bottle was thrown at Martinez’s car, cracking the rear window, Young said.

Martinez, who had eaten at Duke’s Griddle ‘N Grill on south Seaward before the confrontation, left and returned about an hour later on foot with a 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun, Young said. Police said Martinez went inside Juro’ Cho’s, loudly telling patrons he was looking for the vandals. Martinez then went outside, where he got into an argument with between three and 10 bar patrons, authorities said.

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Martinez told police someone threw a punch at him, although authorities said there is no evidence of battery. Martinez fired a warning shot in the air, then allegedly shot Jenkins in the head from about 2 feet away, Young said.

Police don’t know if Jenkins and the others were the same people involved in the earlier argument with Martinez.

Several people called 911 after the gunshots, Young said.

Martinez fled to a relative’s home in the Todd Ranch Condominium Complex in east Ventura, Young said. Authorities found him there about 10 to 15 minutes after the shooting and took him into custody, Young said.

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Authorities said Martinez moved to Ventura about four months ago from Henderson, Nev. He was working at a local department store and staying with his mother and stepfather at the Shores Motel in the 1000 block of Seaward Avenue, about a block from the shooting scene.

He had apparently parked his car at the motel before returning to the Japanese restaurant.

On Saturday, Jim Jenkins, 70, of Ventura grieved for the loss of his grandson--whom he and his wife raised from the time he was 3 months old.

“I feel like I lost a grandson and a son,” Jenkins said.

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Steven Jenkins, a graduate of Buena High School, worked for Winchester Construction Co. in Santa Barbara and was set to begin taking courses at Ventura College on Jan. 10 in hopes of becoming a dentist, his grandfather said. Jenkins said his grandson loved to surf, played golf and sang with a band in Camarillo.

“He was very popular with his friends--he had an awful lot of friends,” Jim Jenkins said, adding that as many as 50 people came to Ventura County Medical Center on Friday night when they got word of the shooting.

Steven Jenkins was out Friday night with his cousin, who lives in the Pierpont area, his grandfather said. There were reports that Jenkins tried to block his cousin from being shot when the bullet hit him, but that could not be confirmed by police.

Memorial services tentatively are planned for Friday at First Assembly of God Church.

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Jenkins’ father lives in Las Vegas and his mother in Santa Maria, his grandfather said.

Jim Jenkins acknowledged that his grandson had had brushes with the law but wouldn’t elaborate.

A source said Jenkins had been a member of an east Ventura group called “The Haoles” that disbanded a few years ago.

The group was named after the Hawaiian word for “Caucasian” and was reportedly exclusively for whites. Authorities said the group was small and not considered a street gang. Despite the name, the group was not involved in the white supremacy movement, authorities said.

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On south Seaward Avenue on Saturday afternoon, the shooting was the topic of many conversations, although patrons and business owners said they didn’t witness the incident or did not want to talk about it.

George Lee, owner of Juro’ Cho’s--which was the only establishment open at the time of the shooting--declined to comment.

The case is the fourth killing in Ventura this year, Young said.

On Sept. 30, Officer Jim Brittle, 37, shot and killed 48-year-old Jonathan Wesley Baker of Ojai at Community Memorial Hospital after Baker stabbed three hospital employees and then came at officers with a knife.

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The employees suffered minor injuries and Baker, who had a long history of mental illness, died two hours after being shot.

On March 10, 78-year-old Jack Jamar, a widower and retired business owner, was found beaten in the bedroom of his Ventura home. He died May 16.

Authorities have charged James “Jamie” Cid, 28, of Ventura with the slaying, which they believe may have occurred during a robbery and burglary.

And on Feb. 2, David Wayne Dowden, 36, and homeless, was found dead at a Ventura moving and storage company with several bullet wounds to the chest. The motive is unclear and there have been no arrests.

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