Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of San Mateo County’s first homicide in 2013, an East Palo Alto shooting that set the tone for a year in which the overall number of cases were low but a majority were gun-related deaths in that city.
The county’s remaining 15 homicides in 2013 were peppered throughout the year although the months of February, June, July, November and December were spared.
All but five of the 16 homicides recorded by the county Coroner’s Office were shootings and eight of the deaths were in East Palo Alto. The others included a fatal beating outside a Belmont bar, a murder-suicide in Redwood City, a home invasion robbery in San Mateo and an officer-related shooting of a suspect in San Bruno.
Of the total, charges have been filed in four cases, said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
The annual homicide compiled by the District Attorney’s Office is slightly different than that of Coroner Robert Foucrault due to the labeling of vehicular manslaughter cases. Wagstaffe counts those cases in the total if his office files murder charges. Foucrault typically does not but did make an exception for a March collision that killed a mother and two sons and injured one boy’s girlfriend after a driver leaving an earlier hit-and-run crashed into their vehicle.
“It’s a little different there because there was some intent with his fleeing an earlier crime,” Foucrault said.
By both accounts, however, the county’s first 2013 homicide was the Jan. 14 shooting that killed 24-year-old Jonathan Alcazar and wounded another on the 2600 block of Illinois Street. Police said eight to 17 shots were fired.
Two weeks later on Jan. 26, 21-year-old Lamont Coleman was found with multiple gunshot wounds by officers responding to a ShotSpotter activation in the area of Capitol Avenue. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Gerado Oseguera, 22, was fatally shot March 1 in a drive-by while standing in a yard on the 500 block of Runymede Avenue in East Palo Alto that also injured a boy.
The next day on March 2, Josefa Osorio Acevedo, 50, and her sons Amado Osorio Acevedo, 23, and Josue Osorio, 14, were killed when an allegedly intoxicated Denis Pereria Demacedo, 29, slammed his vehicle into their car while fleeing from another accident. The crash also injured Amado Acevedo’s girlfriend. Prosecutors charged Demacedo with three counts of second-degree murder among other felonies because of how many died, his heavy drinking prior to the crash and his being on probation for drunk driving at the time.
Both Wagstaffe and Foucrault count the fatal crash among their homicide totals.
Redwood City got its only homicide of the year on April 26 when 72-year-old Sandra Padgett’s husband, John, shot her to death in their Carleton Court home and then shot himself in the head. John Padgett, 69, survived the shooting initially but died three days later. Sandra Padgett was the longtime director of college counseling at The Harker School in San Jose. Police believed health problems was a likely factor behind the murder-suicide.
On April 26, the body of 36-year-old Cecilia Zamora was found in a Pacifica apartment complex storage area on Gateway Drive. Zamora, who had gone missing from San Bruno in mid-February, was determined to have been shot in the back of the head but the exact location and time of that death is unknown. Her boyfriend, Albert Antonio Trejo, 49, is charged with her murder.
Two days later, back in East Palo Alto, Jose Caballero-Diaz, 21, and another man were shot on Euclid Street at about 12:30 a.m. April 28. Caballero-Diaz, of Menlo Park, died at Stanford Medical Center.
On April 29, Barney Hanepen, 48, was severely beaten outside the Lariat Tavern and died May 2. Prosecutors have charged Joseph Patrick Kaufman, of San Carlos, with his murder. The two men were reportedly drinking separately at the bar and got into a physical fight over Hanepen’s female friend. Hanepen was lost consciousness from multiple broken bones and brain bleeding and remained hospitalized in critical condition until his death.
On May 19, 15-year-old Jose Quinonez of East Palo Alto and two other boys were shot in the 2800 block of Fordham Street. Quinonez, a Woodside High School student, had multiple wounds and died at the scene. The other two, 15 and 16, were treated and a fourth teen was uninjured.
Police reported the four boys had been sitting together inside a car when someone approached and fired several rounds into the vehicle, police said.
Two suspects were seen fleeing the scene, possibly in a waiting gray or silver sedan.
June and much of July passed without a homicide but on July 24 Lucas Paul Rodriguez, 30, was fatally shot in East Palo Alto. Police responding to a ShotSpotter activation in the 400 block of Larskpur Avenue about 3:20 p.m. found Rodriguez dead of multiple gunshot wounds in the driver’s seat of a vehicle. Investigators say witnesses saw him approached by unknown suspects who fired multiple rounds in the vehicle and that a suspicious male was seen running through Martin Luther King Park after the shooting, wearing a red hat and a white shirt.
East Palo Alto got its only fatal stabbing of the year Aug. 13 when Philomena Ashford-Anderson, 47, was killed. Her boyfriend, Richard Slaughter, 48, volunteered to police where to find her body inside a Newell Road apartment after his arrest on suspicion of drunk driving following a crash into two parked cars. She had been stabbed several times with a kitchen knife.
A week later in East Palo Alto, Raymond Lewen-Phipps, 19, was fatally shot Aug. 20 while parked in front of a residence. Police found him slumped over in the driver’s side of a vehicle on the 2500 block of Emmett Way and he died at Stanford Medical Center.
On Sept. 4, three men allegedly invaded a San Mateo home on Lodi Avenue with plans to rob the occupants. In the ensuing gunfight, one of the suspects, Bryant Ma, was shot as was a 24-year-old occupant. Ma’s alleged accomplices, Bunn Vo and Edwin Lee, drove him to a Santa Clara hospital where he died Sept. 5 and they now stand charged with his murder under California’s felony murder law because of their participation in an inherently dangerous crime.
More than a month passed before the county’s final confirmed homicide Oct. 22. A San Bruno police officer shot and killed Ryan Solanga. Solanga, a 25-year-old San Francisco resident, was allegedly driving a stolen car that an officer attempted to pull over in the early yours. Salonga allegedly did not yield, instead driving into a dead-end street and U-turning to drive at the officer who fired. Solanga died and his passenger was arrested.
The District Attorney’s Office is still investigating the shooting to determine if it was justified.
Prosecutors are also still reviewing a double-fatal crash that could add to the office’s numbers if elevated to murder charges. On Oct. 24, Balbir and Kamal Singh were killed by a driver as they walked their dog on Chilco Street in Menlo Park. The driver, Marjorie Reitzell, of Redwood City, was on probation for a 2012 DUI conviction when she allegedly hit the couple, ran over a center divider and hit a second car carrying teenagers. Reitzell, 54, had reportedly been drinking heavily all day and has previous drug-related convictions.
The difference in calculating the homicide totals also determines if 2013 numbers were just barely over or under the previous year.
In 2012, prosecutors counted 15 homicides and Foucrault listed 11. Again, the majority were in East Palo Alto which interestingly also marked the county’s first homicide of the 2012 year on Jan. 14 — the same as in 2013.
Both the past two years are a drop from 2011 when the county had 18 homicides and far from the 1992 peak with 60 homicides overall and 45 in East Palo Alto.
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