Fashion Island Newport Beach robbery: 3 suspects charged with murder

Three men accused of carrying out a brazen armed robbery at the Fashion Island mall in Newport Beach, then fatally running over a woman, have been charged with murder.

Leroyernest Joseph McCrary, 26, of Compton; Jaden Cunningham, 18, of Lancaster; and Malachi Eddward Darnell, 18, of Los Angeles, all face a possible death sentence if convicted as charged, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

According to the Orange County DA's Office, on July 2 the victim, 68-year-old Patricia McKay and her husband were waiting for a ride near the Barnes & Noble store around 3:30 p.m. when a white Toyota Camry pulled up next to the couple. Two masked men jumped out of the car and attacked McKay’s 69-year-old husband. Officials say they put a gun to his head and demanded his watch as they forced him to the ground.  

When the suspects were unable to get his property, Cunningham allegedly attacked McKay, who was holding several shopping bags.

With McKay lying in front of the Camry, her husband jumped in front of the vehicle trying to stop it. However, McCrary accelerated forward, striking McKay and dragging her body 65 feet. 

McKay, a tourist from New Zealand, died at the scene. 


According to the DA's office, while the vehicle was moving, Cunningham, who was trying to catch up with the getaway car, was pursued by a Good Samaritan who attempted to stop him from getting back in the vehicle. Darnell is accused of shooting at the Good Samaritan from the vehicle. Luckily, no one was injured in the shooting. 

Cunningham was arrested after jumping out of the vehicle in Cypress and McCray and Darnell were arrested in South Gate after a police pursuit. All three are currently being held without bail.

"Our shopping centers and malls have become hunting grounds for criminals who are stalking innocent shoppers to rob them blind because our Governor and our Legislature refuse to hold anyone accountable for their actions. Actions have consequences and it shouldn’t have to result in the death of an elderly woman just enjoying a day of shopping with her husband for our elected leaders in Sacramento to realize that this is the product of their soft-on-crime policies which encourage criminality while sacrificing public safety. This is Orange County and we refuse to accept this is the new normal. Criminals will be held accountable and violence will never be acceptable," Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement. 

McCrary has a lengthy criminal history. Newport Beach Mayor Wil O'Neill said he "shouldn't have been in free society."

In addition to the murder charge, McCrary has been charged with one felony count of attempted second-degree robbery, and one felony count of evading while driving recklessly. 

McCrary has prior felony convictions for residential burglary in 2018, criminal threats in 2020, and robbery in 2023, all in Los Angeles County.

Darnell was charged with one felony count of second-degree attempted robbery, one felony count of attempted murder, and one felony enhancement of personal use of a firearm and one felony enhancement of personal discharge of a firearm. 

Cunningham was also charged with one felony count of attempted second-degree robbery. 

All three defendants are being held on medical holds and were not transported to court for their scheduled arraignment Friday, the OC DA's office said. They are expected to be arraigned Monday.