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Man who lost son in Southwest Philly fire shot dead in California

Patrick Sanyeah's son died in a 2014 fire that killed four children and destroyed nine homes.

When his son died in a fire in Southwest Philadelphia in 2014, Patrick Sanyeah questioned whether he could go on.

"My son is burned to ashes, and I'm not going to get over it," Sanyeah told the Inquirer.

Sanyeah's 4-year-old son, Patrick Jr., was one of four children who died in the July 5 blaze that destroyed nine homes on the 6500 block of Gesner Street. Sanyeah was the face of the tragedy, his anger and grief almost inseparable, and he protested the city's Fire Department, accusing it of slow response times.

Sanyeah said he wouldn't rest until he got answers, and vowed to live on for his younger son, Wisdom.

On Friday night, 2,700 miles from Southwest Philadelphia, Sanyeah was shot and killed in the parking lot of a dining and entertainment center in Orange, Calif. Sanyeah, Orange police said, was found bleeding in the lot between a Chili's restaurant and a movie theater, and died at a hospital from a gunshot wound to the lower torso.

Sanyeah, 34,  was the first homicide victim of the year for the city, said Sgt. Phil McMullin of the Orange police.

"We generally have about two to four homicides a year," he said.

A Riverside, Calif., man, Trevor Brockington, was arrested Saturday, police said, and charged with Sanyeah's murder. Brockington, 29, was being held in the Orange County jail on $1 million bail. His occupation is listed as a "caretaker" on the jail's website.

McMullin said police have not determined a motive for the shooting and don't know why Sanyeah was in Orange. Police listed Sanyeah's hometown as Folcroft, Delaware County.

Sanyeah had a brother in California, McMullin said, but that man has not cooperated.

McMullin said the entertainment complex, Stadium Promenade, was packed with people watching the Anaheim Ducks in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Ducks' stadium, the Honda Center, is within walking distance of where Sanyeah was found.

No family members could be reached for comment. Patrick Jr.'s mother, Elenor Jacque, did not return requests for comment but appeared to be mourning on Facebook. She lost another son in the fire, 1-month-old Taj Jacque.

Sanyeah told the Inquirer he was a "wild child," moving to America from Liberia when he was 17 with his mother and six siblings. He graduated from Bartram High School and had been arrested nearly a dozen times on charges of theft, firearms offenses, forgery, and similar crimes, but he was never convicted of a violent crime.

"I don't sell drugs. I don't shoot people," Sanyeah said in 2014. "Does it matter what I did in the street to feed my kids?"

The cause of the 2014 fire was never determined.

McMullin asked that anyone with information about the shooting call Orange police at 714-744-7571.