3 Men Arrested After Retired Calif. Cop Killed Protecting News Crew Reporting on Smash-and-Grab Crimes

Authorities said Kevin Nishita, an employee of Star Protection Agency, was fatally shot with a semi-automatic handgun

Kevin Nishita
Kevin Nishita. Photo: Town of Colma

Three California men are accused of murder in the fatal shooting of a retired police officer who was working as a security guard for a TV news crew.

Laron Marques Gilbert, Hershel Hale, and Shadihia Mitchell were each charged with murder, attempted second-degree robbery, and assault with a semi-automatic firearm in connection with the November death of Kevin Nishita.

Mitchell, the alleged gunman, was also charged with possession of a firearm by a felon.

"Obviously this has been a very difficult time. He is loved by those who knew him. Nothing brings back your loved one, but people can feel some sense of justice with these arrests," Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said at a press conference Thursday.

Hale and Mitchell are being held in jail. Authorities said Gilbert is still at large and is considered armed and dangerous.

Authorities said Nishita, an employee of Star Protection Agency, was fatally shot with a semi-automatic handgun as he protected a TV news crew on Nov. 24 during a botched robbery in downtown Oakland.

The news crew was covering previous smash-and-grab thefts, KPIX reported.

The father of two was shot in the abdomen and died in the hospital three days later, NBC News reported.

Shadihia Mitchell, Laron Gilbert, Hershel Hale
Shadihia Mitchell, Laron Gilbert, Hershel Hale. Oakland Police Department (3)

"During the course of the investigation through surveillance video, forensic evidence and witness statements, Laron Gilbert, Hershel Hale and Shadihia Mitchell were identified as the suspects responsible for the attempted robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and the murder of Nishita," according to a probable cause declaration obtained by PEOPLE.

Nishita previously served as a police officer for the cities of Hayward, San Jose and Colma before retiring in 2018.

"His passion was to protect and to serve," Nishita's wife Gina said at the Radio Television Digital News Foundation's citation of courage award earlier this month, KRON4 reported. "Kevin went above and beyond as a security guard for the Bay Area news crews. He developed true friendships with the teams of the newscasters of each network."

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"For example, we went on vacation, he bought multiple umbrellas and I asked him, 'Why did you buy so many?' And his response was, so that when they film outside, and it was raining, that he could protect the news crews from the elements," she said. "Another time, Kevin drove two hours outside of his way to make sure that the news reporter would reach her home safely that night."

Mitchell was arraigned on Friday but has yet to enter a plea. His next hearing is scheduled on April 15. His attorney could not be reached for comment.

Hale has yet to be arraigned.

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