Six weeks after a 19-year-old man was shot, and three weeks after he died as a result, Spokane County sheriff’s detectives are trying to determine whether a crime occurred.
Cedric Sykes was shot as he drove his companions away from a photo session at a rural Spokane Valley cemetery.
Sykes died of his injuries three weeks after the April 14 shooting. Detectives have opened an investigation, and are awaiting test results, to help determine whether the shooting was accidental, as witnesses claim. Sheriff’s spokesman Cpl. Dave Reagan said he did not have a time frame as to when the investigation would be complete and said he could not comment further on the investigation.
Court records provide a glimpse into the events that led to the tragedy. Detectives filed search warrants to get Sykes’ medical records from Sacred Heart Medical Center and to search the Ford Explorer where Sykes was shot.
Those involved in the shooting could not be located for comment.
According to the court records filed earlier this month, the four young men with Sykes at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in the Spokane Valley that evening told police they were taking pictures to use in a rap album cover. A bulletproof vest, a revolver and a semiautomatic handgun were props, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by sheriff’s Detective David Madsen.
Sykes was hired to design a cover for an album the others were producing, said his mother, Karen Sykes. They were not friends, she said.
Karen Sykes would not comment further on her son’s death.
Dante L. Williams, 17, and a teen identified in court records as Weldon or Welden M. Holloway, 17, are reportedly aspiring rap performers. A group of people, including Sykes, went to the rural cemetery on East Trent Avenue for the photo shoot. Holloway brought the guns as props.
Sykes was reportedly taking pictures of the others using a digital camera. After taking pictures, the four got into a Ford Explorer registered to Karen Sykes, documents state.
Kevin T. Culp, 20, allegedly sat in the back passenger-side seat. Culp reportedly picked up the revolver Holloway put down on the back seat between them and held it in his lap with the barrel pointed down and toward the driver’s side of the car, according to court documents.
“He (Culp) then pulled the hammer back and pulled the trigger claiming he didn’t think the pistol was loaded and the pistol fired,” Madsen wrote in the court documents.
Sykes slumped in the driver’s seat and the four saw he’d been shot in the lower part of his neck. They put Sykes in the rear seat, and Holloway drove toward the hospital.
They stopped along the way to let Williams out of the car near Flora Road. He took the two guns with him, according to court records.
Sykes ended up having a gunshot wound in the base of his neck, just above the shoulders. The shot damaged his vertebrae. From the beginning, his condition was critical and his wounds life-threatening. He died May 5.
Officers tracked the guns back to a mutual friend, Jake Snizik, documents say.
The young men involved in the shooting appear to be law-abiding, with the exception of Holloway. Holloway pleaded guilty to taking part in an armed robbery at age 15, juvenile court records show. Holloway does not appear to live at the Airway Heights address listed for his parents in court records. None of the other young men appears to have juvenile or adult arrests or convictions.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.