Extra Police on Richmond Streets

October 25, 2007

By Nicholas Kusnetz

In anticipation of an escalating territorial conflict, the Richmond Police Department has extra officers on the street today, with several two-man cars patrolling the city’s south side.

The move comes a day after a 7-year-old boy was hit in a drive-by shooting and on the same day as the funeral of Ramona Price, 44, who was shot on Chanslor Avenue last week, also in a drive-by. The police fear emotions after the two events could fuel a larger conflict, said Lt. Mark Gagan.

“There’s going to be a very passionate response,” Gagan said.

Gagan did not directly associate the two shootings, but said there is a specific battle unfolding.

“It looks like Fifth and Chanslor is fighting with 20th and Chanslor,” he said.

The boy, who suffered a broken thigh, was shot on the 400 block of South 38th Street. He is in stable condition.


Court Sets Hearing Date for the Diaz Brothers

October 24, 2007

Last Friday, the trial for two brothers charged with the murder of San Pablo man last year was set Friday for December 11, according to Judge John Sugiyama of the Contra Costa Municipal Court.

Rafael Diaz Valencia, 19, is charged with murdering 21-year-old Jose Cervantes on November 21, 2006. His brother, Hector Manuel Diaz, is charged as an accessory to the murder. Both face prison time, and Valencia may face the death penalty.

The brothers were arrested after their victim named Rafael Diaz as the man who shot him just before he died at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. San Pablo police arrested the suspects that same morning at their homes in Rodeo and Hercules, and they were taken into custody at the Martinez County Jail.

According to Contra Costa Times, at the time, the murder marked the sixth for San Pablo in 2006, which was the highest murder rate since 2003.

Judge Finds Richmond Man Linked to Drug Ring at Preliminary Hearing

October 19, 2007

By Nicholas Kusnetz
Right before Earl Johnson, 37, was arrested last November, he had on his body about two ounces of cocaine salt, a gram of base, and an extended magazine of .45 caliber ammunition, which police saw him throw as he was being chased, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing. Johnson’s attorney, Colin Cooper, does not dispute these facts. At issue, though, is whether these items, especially the ammunition, connect Johnson to the cocaine base production and dealing operation at the safe house from which he ran as the police came that day.

In a preliminary hearing in Richmond on Wednesday, a Contra Costa County Superior Court judge decided that Johnson could stand trial in connection with the house and the operation, which was run by Johnson’s brothers Antione and Damien, among others. Johnson, who is charged with five drug and gun related felony counts, must now come before the court on Nov. 6 to enter a plea. Cooper said he plans to plead innocence.

“They’re punishing him for what was going on in that house, and it’s not his house,” Cooper said. Read the rest of this entry »

Panel Addresses Violence Prevention in Richmond, Finds Common Ground

October 18, 2007

Richmond Police Department’s Lt. Mark Gagan and community activist Tracy “Ptah” Mitchell talk about violence prevention.

By Anna McCarthy

Last July, Raequel Smith’s son, Colin Powell, 20, was shot and killed at South Third Street and Main in Richmond. Today, Smith joined a crowd of around 50 students, educators and community members at Contra Costa College to talk about why.

“People in this community are scared. They don’t trust the police, so even if they know who committed the crime, they don’t feel safe telling anyone,” said Smith.

Her son’s case is still under investigation.

Still, Smith understands that the high rates of violence in Richmond come from a host of issues that police can’t necessarily control.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tent City Organizer in Custody for Sexual Abuse

October 16, 2007

By Anna McCarthy

San Jose Police took 61-year-old Richmond resident Robert O. Brown into custody this afternoon on charges of child molestation. Brown is a Tent City organizer at Kennedy Park in Richmond and a prominent community leader. Tent City is a nonprofit organization working to curb escalations of violence in Richmond.

Lt. Gagan of the Richmond police says that Brown is accused of continual sexual abuse of an underage child with an enhancement charge of being over 10 years older than the victim.

Brown turned himself in at the Richmond Police Department after the San Jose Police indicated that he was about to be charged. He is currently being held at the Santa Clara County Jail without bail.

Second Killing in as Many Days

October 12, 2007

By Nicholas Kusnetz 

A 24-year-old Richmond resident was shot dead in a parking lot at 5201 Creely Ave. Wednesday night. Police arrived on the scene after receiving a call of numerous shots fired at 7:46 p.m.

Police found the victim, Donte Taylor, lying on the ground with several females holding his body and screaming uncontrollably, according to the police report.

This was the second fatal shooting in two days in Richmond.

Witnesses reported seeing a grey Camaro drive from the scene with two men inside. Detectives are investigating the shooting but have not released any more details.

Girl Reports Harassment

October 11, 2007

By Nicholas Kusnetz 

A 16-year-old Richmond girl reported being harassed Wednesday by a man in a pickup who approached her at a bus stop and then followed the bus she boarded.

Police arrested Robert Roland, 50, of Novato, Calif., in connection with the case and are contacting other local departments to investigate similar incidents in the area.

Read the rest of this entry »