Deputy Public Defender Doug Welch speaks with James Harbor Friday at his first court appearance over the shooting of 6-year-old Jace Young. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Deputy Public Defender Doug Welch speaks with James Harbor Friday at his first court appearance over the shooting of 6-year-old Jace Young. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Suspect in killing of 6-year-old boy is victim’s cousin

James Harbor, 18, charged in fatal Fourth of July shooting of Jace Young

The six-year-old boy gunned down while watching fireworks in the Bayview last Fourth of July was the victim of a gang shooting allegedly carried out by his own cousin, according to court documents from the case.

James Harbor, 18, is facing various charges including murder and attempted murder in connection with the shooting that killed Jace Young and injured another person at Whitfield Court and La Salle Avenue, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Court documents show Harbor is accused of being an associate of the West Mob gang and one of four men who left the Oakdale housing projects that night to shoot their rivals near Osceola Lane and La Salle Avenue.

The shooters allegedly unloaded more than 20 rounds at a crowd of about a dozen people who are not believed to have been armed, striking Young and a 39-year-old man. Harbor allegedly fired 12 of the shots.

Young was injured and found unresponsive after running into a nearby residence. The other victim survived.

The shooting stunned San Francisco’s Black leaders and led to calls for an end to gun violence in the southeast neighborhoods.

Harbor was taken into custody on an arrest warrant Wednesday in Parkmerced. He made his first court appearance Friday afternoon and is expected to enter not guilty pleas next Tuesday.

While authorities appear to have identified the others involved in the shooting, none have been charged in connection with the case.

Harbor allegedly admitted to going to the Osceola Lane area to do the shooting and to being armed, but claimed he did not open fire because his gun jammed, according to court records.

Doug Welch, an attorney with the Public Defender’s Office who represented Harbor at his first court appearance, said it was too early to discuss the facts of the case in an interview with the San Francisco Examiner on Friday.

“At this point I know only what the charges are and that Jace was killed,” Welch said. “I don’t know the underlying circumstances, the facts, or exactly what happened. We are starting to get to the bottom of that now.”

Welch offered his condolences to the family.

“This is an unbelievable tragedy and our hearts go out to them,” Welch said. “I can’t really imagine anything more difficult than losing a kid.”

Young’s family watched the hearing from inside the courtroom, some wearing masks demanding “Justice for Jace.”

His father, Jason Young, told reporters after the hearing that the death of his son has been “devastating.”

“He was the best part of a lot of us,” the father said. “So to endure that loss and go through the holidays, and with a birthday coming up, it’s a very hard, tragic time. We are trying to get through it the best way that we can.”

Harbor is currently being held at County Jail without bail pending trial. A judge is expected to decide next Tuesday whether to release him.

San Francisco Examiner Photo Editor Kevin Hume contributed to this report.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include additional information.

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The family of 6-year-old Jace Young stands outside a courtroom at the Hall of Justice on Friday. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The family of 6-year-old Jace Young stands outside a courtroom at the Hall of Justice on Friday. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

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