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Family remembers Bakersfield man shot and killed in Arizona

CDC reports gun violence as the leading cause of death in youth with highest rates in youth of color
Posted at 10:21 AM, Feb 16, 2024
  • Video shows Donny Betker playing basketball, photos of Daniel Betker Jr., and court documents detailing the shooting
  • Donny Betker remembers playing basketball with his older brother Daniel Betker Jr., but now he's playing alone after Daniel Jr. was shot and killed in a McDonald's drive-thru in Arizona.

22-year-old Bakersfield native Daniel Betker Jr. was shot and killed outside of a McDonald’s drive-thru in Arizona.
Now his memories are left behind on the basketball court at Wilson Park.

Donny Betker used to play basketball with his brother around town.

When I asked him how he felt when he beat his older brother in basketball, he said, “That was the greatest feeling because he was out here in Bakersfield. He was the best.”

But now, he’s playing alone.

Bakersfield Neighborhood News Reporter Dominique Lavigne talking with family of victim at Wilson Park
Bakersfield Neighborhood News Reporter Dominique Lavigne talking with family of victim at Wilson Park

Donovan woke up on the morning of January 13 to a missed call from his dad and one from his brother.

“I’m just like damn, I don’t know I got this bad vibe in my body," he said.

Daniel Jr. was shot multiple times following an altercation in a McDonald’s drive-thru in Mesa, Arizona, more than 700 miles away from Bakersfield.

As soon as Daniel Betker Sr., his father, heard the news, he hit the road, saying he spent every minute of the 8-hour drive thinking about his son.

“Couldn’t get there fast enough, and that I wish I was there to protect him or at least help him to let him know that I loved him,” Daniel Sr. said through tears.

Court documents show the man involved in the shooting has been charged with second degree murder.

At the time of his death, Daniel Betker Jr. was just one week away from his 23rd birthday, which his family celebrated without him.

“I feel like I lost a part of myself, and I don’t wish that on any parent,” Daniel Sr. said.

Daniel Jr’s death is just another caused by gun violence.

Due to that, Daniel Sr. would like to see a change.

“You should be able to own a firearm, but not at 25," he said. "You shouldn’t be able to carry, not until you’re at least 25 because the maturity is not there.”

Most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control reports guns as the leading cause of death among kids and teens ages 1 to 19 in 2022 with the highest rates impacting youth of color.

“If you were a little bit more mature, maybe things wouldn’t have went the way that they went last night.”

Despite his loss, Daniel Sr. wants to keep his son’s legacy alive.

“He was my little shadow, my mini-me.”

His brother is doing the same.

“They gave me some of his clothes. I’m just finna wear them, remember him, keep it in his name, play basketball in his name,” Donny said.

You can take a look at the court documents in full detail below and learn more about how to support the family here.

Carlos Monte-Michaux Heard RO

Carlos Monte-Michaux Heard

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