Group criticizes police response
By Karl Fischer
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
- A homicide victim lay undiscovered on Fifth Street
for several hours Tuesday morning before neighbors found him a few
paces from his grandmother's door.
While authorities have not yet determined when 24-year-old Curtis
Evans died, the Contra Costa Sheriff's Office did receive a 911
call reporting gunfire the previous evening, about seven hours before
the homicide investigation began.
"We received a call about 1 a.m., someone hearing shots" up the
street, said Lt. Donny Gordon of the Contra Costa Sheriff's Office.
"The deputy who responded did not find anything at the time."
The apparent mistake angered community activists, who had coincidentally
organized a demonstration Tuesday at Sheriff Warren Rupf's office
in Martinez to complain about perceived inattention to North Richmond's
"This is ridiculous. This young man could have been saved, possibly,
if the deputy had driven down the street," said Willie Jay, a member
of the North Richmond chapter of the Association of Community Organizations
for Reform Now (ACORN).
Rupf agreed to meet with ACORN today.
The killing was the fourth this year in the unincorporated section
of North Richmond. It came one week after a similar incident in
Richmond's Parchester Village neighborhood, where Richmond police
got a report of gunfire during the predawn hours but did not spot
two homicide victims later found dead in a parked car.
A crowd gathered about 8 a.m. near the body, which had several
gunshot wounds and was wedged between two parked cars in the 1600
block of Fifth Street.
Some neighbors went to look for help while others were talking
on their cell phones when a patrolling deputy noticed the group
about 8:20 a.m., Gordon said.
Evans, a Sacramento resident, visited his grandmother Monday night,
authorities said. The family declined comment Tuesday.
But Jay, who visited with the family Tuesday afternoon, said Evans'
grandmother called 911 after hearing shots about 10 p.m. To her
knowledge, no deputies came to investigate. ACORN members said that
scenario is all too familiar in North Richmond.
"When you call the sheriff, they come two, three, four, five hours
later; and sometimes they don't make it at all," Jay said. "It's
always been bad, but it's getting progressively worse."
Jay and others in her group want more deputies patrolling North
Richmond and better communication with sheriff's officials about
recurring neighborhood problems. They also want authorities to take
a harder line with those committing quality-of-life crimes that
often fly below the radar in a town infamous for violent crime.
The comments about poor communication and patrol work were a surprise
to Gordon, who said he met recently with ACORN members, distributed
his cell phone number and encouraged them to call whenever they
liked. Gordon heads the sheriff's Bay Substation, which polices
"I'm very willing to work with ACORN. I feel we've been very interactive.
I don't know what would have caused that perception," Gordon said,
responding to the complaints. "I know people say the sheriff's office
has not done everything it can do, but ... we're here to protect
the public and save lives, and we're invested in that 100 percent."