College student fatally shot during fight outside Town Center nightclub

Off-duty officers hear gunfire, see victim running away from man with gun

By Vic Micolucci - Reporter, anchor , Destiny McKeiver - Multi-media journalist , News4Jax.com Staff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The family of the 24-year-old man killed early Friday morning in a shooting outside the Suite nightclub at the St. Johns Town Center said he was trying to break up a fight when he was shot.

Friday afternoon, Jacksonville police said that Sina Sharifai was shot twice as he was in a physical altercation with Toray Ricketts, also 24 years old. When two off-duty officers working at the club heard the shots and responded, they saw Sharifai running away from Ricketts, who was running after him with a gun, police said.

Sharifai was taken to UF Health Jacksonville, where he died. Ricketts was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and having a concealed firearm.

Police said they were called to the club on Big Island Drive about 2:10 a.m. after an argument in the club spilled over into a fight in the parking lot. Witnesses said Ricketts went to his car, got a gun and returned.

"They both ended up on the ground, and that is the point when Mr. Ricketts pulled a handgun from his waistline and fired two shots, striking Mr. Sharifai," JSO homicide Lt. Steve Gallaher said. "Mr. Sharifai attempted to run. Behind him, trailing behind him, was the suspect, Toray Ricketts. He was armed with a handgun."

Sharifai’s family said he would have never started a fight, and believes he was trying to stop it.

Sharifai's cousin and uncle said he was a graduate of Nease High School and was about to graduate with a bachelor's degree from Florida State College at Jacksonville. He planned to move to Washington, D.C., and wanted to be a counselor.

"He was a family man. He was an all-around stand-up guy," cousin Kavoosh Mohajeri said. 

Family members were told Sharifai was being a good Samaritan and was trying to help other people from getting hurt when he was killed. 

His uncle, Behrouz Sharifai, said he was just trying to hold the family together.

"He ... has always been an upstanding citizen in any situation he's been faced with," he said. "The only thing left right now are memories."

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Sharifai's family with funeral expenses.

Suite was closed Friday night, and posted an apology to its customers on Facebook. People who work at the club said they are very upset and saddened by Sharifai's death. They said they have top-notch security inside the club and had two off-duty officers working there Thursday night.

News4Jax learned that the nightclub does search people for weapons upon entry. But in this case, News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said a weapon search would not have helped.

"It wouldn't have made a difference in this situation because the person was unarmed inside of the club," he said.

Smith added that the main thing anyone heading to a nightclub can do is be cautious.

According to News4Jax records, this was the first homicide at the St. Johns Town Center.

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