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McKinley Mall stabbing suspect called 'lady killer' at murder arraignment

Onlookers in Hamburg Town Court on Thursday morning yelled "lady killer" and "clown" at Keith R. Sparks, who had just been arraigned on a second-degree murder charge.

Sparks, 43, stands accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death at the McKinley Mall on Wednesday.

Police said Sparks followed the victim and her friend to the Hamburg shopping center and chased them as they ran into the Sears department store. Mallicia U. Tipps, 38, of Buffalo was stabbed several times.

Sparks, who surrendered to police outside his Niagara Falls apartment at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, pleaded not guilty.

Sparks was arraigned before Hamburg Town Justice Carl W. Morgan on charges of murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The weapons charge stems from an accusation that Sparks pulled the trigger of a gun but the weapon misfired, Morgan said in court.

During a news conference after the court appearance, police declined to elaborate on the circumstances involving the gun.

"I'm not going to get into any details with the gun," Hamburg Police Chief Greg Wickett said after Sparks' arraignment.

Keith R. Sparks is led into Hamburg Town Court for his arraignment on Thursday morning. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

Hamburg police were called to the mall at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday.

"There was an encounter in the parking lot that led them to flee into the store," Hamburg Police Capt. Kevin Trask said of the incident.

First responders arrived at the scene within five minutes of the stabbing and began trying to aid Tipps, who was unconscious, police said. They worked on her for about 15 minutes, but she died from her injuries, police said.

Investigators are still analyzing video of the attack from inside the store.

Hamburg police investigate a crime scene near the Sears at the McKinley Mall in Hamburg on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

Sparks became a suspect after police interviewed witnesses and family members and also viewed several security cameras in the area of the attack.

Hamburg police worked with Buffalo and Niagara Falls police departments to check several addresses for Sparks.

"Niagara Falls Police located the vehicle used in the attack in the back of the Independence Avenue apartment where Sparks is believed to have resided since this spring," police said in a statement. "Sparks subsequently gave himself up to police and was taken into custody and transported to the Town of Hamburg Police Department where he was charged with Murder in the second degree."

Police said they knocked on the door of the Independence Avenue home, but Sparks initially did not come out. He later surrendered without incident, they said. The situation was not a standoff, Trask said.

In March 2002, Sparks faced multiple charges, including two felonies, after a crash on Berkshire Avenue, near Bailey Avenue, according to a Buffalo police report. He was accused of leaving the scene of a crash and later shoving a police officer and trying to flee while in custody inside Buffalo police headquarters, according to the report.

The two felony charges he faced were fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and second-degree escape. Other charges included criminal impersonation, driving without a license, unlawful possession of marijuana, false personation, fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and driving without an inspection, according to the report.

Sparks pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor escape charge and a traffic violation of leaving a crash scene, according to Buffalo City Court records. He was sentenced to 105 days in jail, according to the court records.

Hamburg Police investigating fatal stabbing at McKinley Mall

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