UPDATE: Suspect charged with murder in shootout that killed Wilson High student during botched robbery, DA says

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Nettles was the security guard at the dispensary. He was, in fact, one of the suspected robbers who is accused of getting into a shootout with the guard, according to the District Attorney’s office.

An 18-year-old man is facing a murder charge following a shootout that resulted in the death of a Wilson High School student who is accused of participating in a botched robbery at an illegal marijuana dispensary in Compton earlier this month, according to authorities.

Investigators haven’t publicly explained all the circumstances surrounding the shooting, but the 18-year-old, Kamren Nettles, has been charged with murder and attempted murder in connection to the April 3 shooting death of 18-year-old Justin Culberson at an illegal cannabis shop.

Sheriff’s officials said at the time of the shooting that Culberson, Nettles and two others entered the illegal dispensary just before 7 p.m. Sunday in the 1500 block of South Wilmington Avenue with the intention of robbing it at gunpoint.

Once inside the store, Nettles and a security guard exchanged gunfire, which struck Culberson in the abdomen, authorities said.

When deputies got to the scene, the security guard told them what had transpired and he was taken to a hospital to be treated for his injuries. Both his and the gun used in the attempted robbery were seized at the scene, deputies said. No other injuries were reported.

“They’re pretty brazen,” LASD Lt. Hugo Reynaga previously told CBSLA about the alleged robbery crew. “I’m assuming this is not the first time this crew has done this.”

The four alleged robbers fled the area before law enforcement arrived. But shortly after, a wounded Culberson was dropped off at a hospital, authorities said. Despite being treated for his injuries, the 18-year-old died, according to the LASD.

Culberson enrolled at Wilson High School just over a week before his death and had turned 18 a few weeks earlier, officials said. He was a senior slated to graduate this year, his family said.

A GoFundMe page was created to cover the costs of the Culberson’s funeral expenses and it has raised $17,131 of the $30,000 goal as of Friday morning.

“He was a kind-hearted, hilarious, beautiful, smart soul that was taken from us way too soon,” his mother and GoFundMe page organizer, Evadalia Culberson, wrote in the description. “Justin was always there for his family and friends and anytime that you would see Justin, he had a big o smile that would brighten up the entire room and make you smile.”

Although authorities say Culberson and Nettles were two of the four people involved in trying to rob the illegal cannabis shop, it’s unclear if any of the other two have been arrested; a spokesperson with the LASD did not return calls for comment.

Nettles, who has pleaded not guilty, remains in prison where his bail was set at $3.05 million. He is due back in court on May 9 for a hearing, a spokesperson from the DA’s office said.

As of Friday morning, the shop where the shooting took place was back open. It’s branded as a smoke shop, but a man behind the counter quickly offered to sell cannabis.

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Fernando Haro is the Long Beach Post's breaking news and public safety reporter.
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