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Armand Jones, 18 -- Shot

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ANAHEIM – Dancing and Denny's was a beloved tradition for Armand Jones and his buddies, friends said.

But the young man known for his fashionable clothes and flashy chains died early Friday in a gunbattle between two groups in the parking lot of a Denny's restaurant.

Jones, 18, staggered into the crowded eatery and fell dead in the foyer.

A second man lay wounded in the parking lot of the Denny's at 2005 E. Katella Ave. but he was expected to live after being taken to UCI Medical Center.

The fight began earlier in the evening at the Boogie, an Anaheim club for those under 21 years old, said Anaheim police Sgt. Rick Martinez. The fight rekindled in the men's room of the Denny's at about 2:30 a.m. when several members of one group attempted to rob a man involved in the earlier argument.

Martinez said the attempted holdup grew into a hostile face-off between the two groups, who numbered about 20. At least 20 shots were fired in the fatal gunfight.

They spilled into the parking lot, where witness Joseph Rail, 50, was sitting in has car after finishing his meal.

"I heard the shots and I thought they were fireworks," he said later. "Then I heard commotion and I turned to see people running." He stayed in his car until ordered into the restaurant by police.

At least one car in the parking lot had bullet holes.

Martinez said the restaurant is known as a popular place to stop after the bars and nightclubs close.

Police are still looking for suspects.

Armand Jones of Long Beach attended Cerritos Junior College, friends said.

Jones' friend, Kiddo Jones, 21, of Long Beach, said he'd often joined his friend at the Boogie.

"He'd dance like crazy. He loved the Boogie. It was his favorite spot on Thursday and Saturday hip-hop nights and then everyone goes to Denny's," said Kiddo Jones, who opted out Thursday night.

Jones said his friend had a way with people – either spitting out jokes or acting goofy.

"This is a guy you can't hate," Jones said. "Everyone loved Armand."

Armand Jones was an aspiring rap artist who went by "Young Prozpect" because he believed he was the next generation of music, said song partner Shehana Dalpathado, 16.

"He lived and breathed rap music," Dalpathado said. "He believed he was the next best thing and, honestly, he was. He had the looks and the talent."

Dalpathado said Jones spent much of his time in the recording studio and working on lyrics.

Manuel Olague, 24, said he had worked at the Denny's for six years before quitting last week. He said the restaurant had rarely been the scene of trouble and that it was usually protected by two guards.

It was unclear if the guards were on duty at the time of the shooting.

Investigators found a handgun and about 20 expended shells in the parking lot. It was not known whether the handgun had been fired in the shootout, Martinez said.

Martinez said there were other shootings this week at Denny's restaurants, in Pismo Beach and in Ontario, but there was no known connection between those shootings and the one in Anaheim.

Denny's issued a statement on the shootings from its headquarters in Spartanburg, S.C.

"These unrelated events are most unfortunate and tragic. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families," read the statement.

Jones' friend, Dwayne Campbell, 19, of Long Beach, came to the restaurant later in the day and said Jones was just a kid trying to make it.

"I've known him for over 10 years and he absolutely wasn't involved in gangs. He was trying to be a rapper, actor and comedian. He was just a really cool person."



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