A childhood friend of Roger Ramos described holding the Myrtle Beach man's hand as he slowly bled out following a shooting at a Myrtle Beach bar on Oct. 7, 2018.
Ciaralynn Edwards was working as a server at RipTydz Oceanfront Grille & Rooftop Bar on the night Ramos was killed. He was 25 years old.
“The shooter just stood up and shot [Roger] in front of me — point-blank, right in the face,” Edwards told the jury at the Horry County Courthouse Tuesday.
This week, that shooter, 26-year-old Jakkari Jaquille De'Andre Brown of Toccoa, Georgia, is on trial for killing Ramos. On Monday, the judge denied a stand your ground motion by the defense.
Brown was initially charged with murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, unlawful use of a weapon and carrying a firearm into a business selling alcohol. He is being represented by 15th Circuit Public Defender Eric Fox. During his opening statement, Fox said his client was "scared over and over again" and urged the jury to take in consideration how Brown felt that night.
"He was distraught. He was a wreck, not just because he was being arrested but that he had been involved in this traumatic event, " Fox said. "What happened was tragic. But not every tragedy is a crime."
In the prosecution’s opening statement Tuesday morning, 15th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Seth Oskin described the scene on the night Ramos was killed, which was the night of the highly anticipated UFC fight between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Oskin said the fight “attracted dozens of people” to RipTydz for a watch party, including Brown, some of Brown’s coworkers and Ramos. Ramos was an employee at the bar but was not working the night of the fight.
Oskin noted that as the night progressed, the “fun beach bar” began to “take a turn towards tension.” One of the more memorable moments from the McGregor-Khabib bout happened immediately after Khabib was announced as the winner. Khabib climbed out of the ring and attacked one of McGregor’s team members, which led to McGregor reacting in the same way causing an all-out frenzy.
“As the fight came to an end, it kind of translated to the audience, directly to the bar,” Edwards said.
In her testimony, Edwards said a fight broke out and she did her best to break it up.
But after one scuffle was resolved, another one started, and the violence escalated. She said she continued to try to calm the situation, but eventually it reached a point where she felt she couldn’t help. One of her co-workers was being assaulted and she tried to pull people off of him. During the chaos, Edwards said she saw Brown punch Ramos.
In the state’s opening remarks, Oskin said Brown started the altercation by striking Ramos. Ramos responded by throwing a beer bottle, which missed Brown. In the defense's opening, Fox alleged that Brown "did not start this fight" and that the situation could have been handled differently.
"You don’t de-escalate a fight by throwing a beer bottle at someone's head," Fox said.
Bystanders at the time tried to de-escalate the situation — but Brown retaliated by pulling a gun and fatally shooting Ramos.
During her testimony, Edwards identified Brown as the shooter.
Immediately after Ramos was shot, Edwards said she ran behind the bar. Once she heard no more gunshots, she ran downstairs to the first floor to see where the shooter ran, but she couldn’t locate him. She went back upstairs to the rooftop of the bar and went to Ramos’ side. She held his hand and kept telling him, “stay with me.” Edwards was confident that her friend since middle school would make it.
Also by Ramos’ side was Joshua Stouch, a Pennsylvania police constable, who was in Myrtle Beach exploring vacation options and possible retirement. Stouch was at RipTydz to celebrate the possibility of buying a restaurant and to watch the fight.
After coming back from the bathroom, Stouch realized there were disputes breaking out. Initially, he saw people hitting each other. At some point, he saw a man holding a gun. Despite not knowing where the shooter was, Stouch went to Ramos’ side.
“I briefly thought about whether my spouse was safe," Stouch said. "I go in the direction other people flee from.”
While attempting to give aid to Ramos, Stouch saw a bullet wound and that Ramos was “bleeding profusely.” Stouch used his shirt, a green Philadelphia Eagles jersey, to try to stop the bleeding. Then he performed CPR but only chest compressions. He said Ramos still had a pulse when the medics showed up about 15 to 20 minutes later.
Drew Fox, an officer with the Myrtle Beach Police Department, said he was assigned to the waterfront area of the beach at the time. When he responded to the scene, he moved people away and approached the victim and the medics assisted him. From conversations of fellow policemen over the radio, he heard where the suspect might be hiding. He heard conflicting descriptions originally from people at the scene, but he continued to communicate with the other officers.
His bodycam footage of the incident, which was presented to the court Tuesday, showed the officer approaching the third floor as people were fleeing. Stouch could be seen without his shirt performing CPR on Ramos.
Horry County Deputy Coroner Patty Bellamy testified for the prosecution. At the time of the shooting, Bellamy was a crime scene investigator with the Myrtle Beach Police Department. She said she was called to the scene about 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 7. Bellamy noticed the scene was “a big mess” after arriving, with chairs thrown everywhere and the place was in complete disarray.
While Bellamy collected evidence at the bar, Officer Rhett Ammons was at a hotel near RipTydz apprehending Brown following a tip that Brown had been spotted at that hotel. During his testimony, Ammons said that Brown was emotional following the reading of his Miranda rights.
In the video, Ammons questioned Brown, who said he was at RipTydz with his gun and that he shot Ramos.
“I’m sorry," Brown said. "I’m so sorry.”
As the footage continued, Brown could be heard crying and repeating the phrases “I’m sorry” and “I’m scared.”
While the video played for the court, Brown buried his hands in his face. At one point, two people, a man and a woman, who were sitting not far behind from Brown, were escorted out of the courtroom after becoming emotional.
During her testimony, Bellamy confirmed that she was called over to the hotel where they recovered a gun stashed among the bushes. She said they were searching two rooms there. There were photos of an extended magazine, a shorter magazine, 17 9mm bullets, a small black backpack with Brown’s shirt inside and the gun.
She said the victim was taken to Grand Strand Medical Center where a bullet fragment was collected.
After the first day of testimony ended, Mario Ramos, Roger Ramos' uncle, said he was relieved that the trial was finally underway.
“It’s hard, but we’re halfway through the mark, so I think we’re good,” Mario said. “I’m happy we finally got to this point after two-and-a-half years.”
The state is expected to finish with their witnesses by midday Wednesday. Once the state rests, the defense will begin calling witnesses to testify. The jury was dismissed about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and is expected to return Wednesday morning.