East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis looked determined as his department faced investigating the city's sixth homicide this year. "We are not going to tolerate this level of violence," he told reporters at a press briefing on Monday (July 25). "We need the community to show they won't, either."
The chief also named three suspects in recent shootings, including the shooting death of Cate Fisher, 19, of Menlo Park.
Last year, he said, East Palo Alto had four homicides. This year surpassed that in a matter of days, with four homicides since July 13 alone. Davis said his goal now is to go without a homicide for the next six months.
Police officers will sacrifice their days off and work overtime to help achieve that milestone. The chief said extended hours will increase police coverage by 25 percent, with 12 officers on the street during "the busy hours" of 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. for at least the next month. The department plans to tap grants to cover the overtime.
After that, it's up to the community. Outrage at the shooting of 3-month-old Izack Jesus Jimenez Garcia, killed as his family left a baby shower in East Palo Alto on June 5, led to the quick arrest of 17-year-old Fabian Zaragoza, who pleaded not guilty to murder charges in a shooting investigators believe was a retaliation gone wrong for an assault earlier this year by Sureno gang members in Redwood City.
Mayor Carlos Romero told the press he hopes that the arrest encourages residents to see cooperation as worthwhile. He's organizing a community march from east Menlo Park to Palo Alto on Aug. 6 "to say we're not going to allow this to happen."
Catherine Fisher, 19, of Menlo Park was shot and killed while sitting in a car around 2 a.m. in East Palo Alto on July 13. At the press briefing Davis said she was not the intended target, but that a young man riding in the same car may have been. He described three men as primary suspects in both that homicide and that of Hugo Chavez, 26, six days later.
Three East Palo Alto residents -- Christian Fuentes, 20, Jaime Cardenas, 19, and Fidel Silva, 24 -- are the focus of the investigation.
Fuentes was arrested last week for violating parole by not showing up for an interview with investigators, who were acting on a tip, according to Acting Captain Jeff Liu. Both Cardenas and Silva remain at-large; all three are also wanted in connection with two robberies, a burglary, and a triple shooting and murder in Grand Junction, Colorado, police said.
"Our plea is that if people know where they are, call," Chief Davis said. "We have seen the damage that they can inflict."
Liu said police have not ruled out a connection between these three suspects and a third homicide that happened late Sunday night, July 24. A 19-year-old man was gunned down around 10:30 p.m. in a pizzeria parking lot on East Bayshore Road as he greeted friends. Another man, 18, was also shot, but survived.
Police ask anyone with information about these cases to call the anonymous tip line at 650-853-8477 or send an anonymous text-a-tip to 650-409-7692.