UPDATE, Aug. 13: Shoe Palace released a statement on Friday addressing the fatal shooting on Instagram.
“Our Shoe Palace Family is heartbroken over the senseless act of violence that took the life of Jayren Bradford. A loving son, brother, friend and team member Jayren was a light in any room he walked into. We ask at this time to respect his family and friends as they navigate through this traumatic event. As an organization, our focus remains on Jayren’s family.”
Originally reported on Aug. 12: A man who worked at a footwear store in Los Angeles was fatally shot yesterday afternoon in connection with a dispute over a pair of shoes, Los Angeles Police said in a release.
Shortly after noon, officers were called to the scene of a shooting at Melrose Avenue and Genesee Avenue in Los Angeles’ Fairfax District. KTLA reported that the victim was 26-year-old Jayren Bradford, an employee at the Shoe Palace store located at 7725 Melrose Ave. He was pronounced deceased upon his arrival to a local hospital, police said.
The shooting occurred when the victim approached a group of people in the middle of a dispute during a shoe raffle in front of the store, police said.
“Jay came from his car and he confronted them saying, ‘What’s the problem? What’s the deal?’ Then everybody shifted their aggression towards Jay,” Keyshawn Williams, Bradford’s colleague at the store, told local news Fox 11. “And they were here with other friends, so they all surrounded him and that’s when he was shot.”
Investigators are currently searching for the suspect, who police said was described as a Hispanic male who left the location in a possible dark sedan.
Footwear News has reached out to Shoe Palace for a comment.
As the sneaker resale market soars, footwear raffles and events have become even more high-stakes and in some cases, dangerous. The presence of long lines and crowds outside of sneaker stores can be beneficial to a company’s image in terms of marketing hype. But it can often breed altercations among competitive sneakerheads and footwear enthusiasts.
This incident is the latest example of a footwear event turning violent. In April 2020, a Florida woman was murdered after a dispute over three pairs of Yeezy sneakers. In July 2019, police shut down an Adidas pop-up shop in New York City after two teenagers were assaulted in line.
“[Athletic] brands have been very careful about this [lately],” NPD Group industry analyst Matt Powell told Footwear News in 2019 in connection with the Adidas pop-up incident. “Nike had some bad press back in the day about kids fighting to get their shoes and they put a lot of controls into place to make sure people didn’t get hurt. Brands are [increasingly] cognizant of some of the pitfalls that can happen with [exclusive drops].”