Moreno Valley

Family of Black Man Wants Hate Crime Charges Added in Deadly Shooting

Prosecutors say they have no evidence that the Feb. 1 shooting at a party was motivated by race.

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The family of a Black man fatally shot and killed at a party in February in Moreno Valley believe their son was targeted because of his race by two white supremacists.

Family members of Massai Cole, 18, have gathered 80,000 signatures in an online petition pushing for federal prosecutors to investigate the case and charge two cousins arrested in the case with a hate crime.

Cole was shot in February after a confrontation at a party.

"Massai was a protector," said Jevon Cole, the victim's father. "He cared about the people he was around."

La Quisha Anderson, the victim's stepmother, said Massai was loving.

"He's loving, caring, kind, forgiving."

Losing Massai is a deep heartache that will never go away, in part because they believe the shooters specifically targeted him.

"They killed somebody they didn't even know based on his skin color," Jevon Cole said.

Darren Zesk, 19, and his cousin Jared, 18, face murder charges in the slaying, prosecutors said.

The shooting happened after the cousins had been kicked out following a confrontation at a party, officials said.

The cousins allegedly came back later with guns and fired multiple times, authorities said.

"If they were shooting at a crowd it would be more than one person hit," Cole said. "All the bullets were in my son."

Anderson says she believes the suspects may be racists after she says she saw one of them in a Facebook page sitting next to a confederate flag and found a racist rap video by the other.

Prosecutors said they don't have evidence that race played a role in the murder. Zesk's attorney said race played no part in the shooting and there was no hate crime.

But the family thinks otherwise.

"I want these guys to get life," Cole said. "If they get life I feel like justice has been served."

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