Father of 2010 shooting victim: 'Every time the door opened in my son’s name, I wanted to be there'
After Joe Randle’s son was killed in 2010, he became fearful of his surroundings. He was afraid to walk alone, knowing that the person who shot his son was still out there.
As he waited for an arrest, he wondered if the shooter would be killed before police could find him.
In a downtown Los Angeles courtroom recently, Joe Randle, dressed in a brown suit, stood with a typed statement in his hand. Nearly six years after 21-year-old Jason Randle was gunned down, the day had come for his father to address the court -- and his son’s killer.
“Jason was my one and only biological son,” he said. “Losing him was the greatest hurt I have ever experienced in my life.”
Ravanna Mohamed Bey, 39, was sentenced March 17 to 50 years to life in prison in Jason Randle’s killing.
Prosecutors and police said that Bey, a documented gang member, was hanging out with friends outside a South L.A. apartment complex on Aug. 7, 2010, when Randle walked by and was shot at close range. Prosecutors said the motive remains unclear.
Witnesses and phone records placed Bey at the scene, according to court records. Bey was arrested on suspicion of murder in December 2013.
From that point on, Joe Randle made sure to be present for each court appearance.
In all, he made more than 20 trips from Watts to downtown Los Angeles, always arriving early.
“Every time the door opened in my son’s name, I wanted to be there,” he said.
For Joe Randle, fatherhood was an important calling. He taught his son how to dress, taught him manners and drove him to doctor’s appointments. He tried to lead by example: He woke up at 6 a.m. each weekday and drove from Watts to Costa Mesa for work. He was always early.
The night Jason Randle was killed, Joe Randle was sitting at his computer desk at home when he got a call. Jason had been shot.
He rushed to where Jason was living, into red lights and a crowd of people, then to California Hospital Medical Center. There, he was walked into a small room, where a doctor took his hand and apologized.
“She told me she was sorry he didn’t make it,” Joe Randle recalled. “I couldn’t believe what she was telling me was true.”
Now, certain days represent hurt. Christmas will never be the same, nor will Jason’s birthday, nor Aug. 7, the day of the killing. Father’s Day haunts Joe Randle.
Jason Randle, his family said, was the youngest of eight siblings. He was outgoing, with a good sense of humor. He liked to tease his older sister, Tristie McGinnie. When he was a senior in high school, he went to three proms -- a testament to his popularity.
Jason moved away from home to take care of his young son, and treated his girlfriend’s older child as his own. Though his parents didn’t approve of the neighborhood, they knew he wanted to be close to his family.
“In his mind he had plenty of time to decide what he wanted to do,” his father said.
Joe Randle sometimes still sits in his chair at a computer desk in his home and hopes that Jason will walk through the door, asking for something to eat. Instead, his recent years have been filled planning for court appearances and the eventual trial. Joe retired early, preoccupied with grief.
On the day Bey was sentenced, Joe and Jason’s mother, Maxine McGinnie, packed into the always-crowded court elevators and made their way through the metal detectors.
In court, Joe Randle explained to the judge that Jason Randle’s son, now 8, will never get to know his father. Instead, the child will have to be told of how he and his father were once inseparable. Family will have to explain how he was gunned down.
“We will also have the meticulous task of teaching him not to harbor hatred and malice against those who choose to behave in this manner,” he said. “Our message to him will be of love and forgiveness.”
Joe told the court about the people who approach him and say, “At least you will have closure.”
There is no closure, he says back. Instead, Joe says, he will know he and his family did everything they could for justice. Instead, he will have peace.
Photo, above: Joe Randle is somber when talking about the moment doctors told him his son, Jason Randle, was dead. His stepdaughters, Tristie McGinnie, middle, Angela McGinnie, and Jason's mother, Maxine McGinnie, listen as he speaks. Credit: Gina Ferazzi, Los Angeles Times
Photo, right: A family photo of Jason Randle in high school. Credit: Randle family