East Palo Alto: Four homicides in 12 days

Suspects named in shootings, including slaying of Cate Fisher

East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis looked determined as his department faced investigating the city's sixth homicide this year, and fourth since July 13.

"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 slaying of Cate Fisher, 19, of Menlo Park.

Last year, he said, East Palo Alto had four murders. This year surpassed that in a matter of days, with four homicides since July 13 alone. Chief Davis said his goal now is to go without a murder 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."

Fisher not target

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 Chief Davis said she was not the intended target, but that a young man riding in the same car may have been as two shooters opened fire. He described three men as primary suspects in both that murder 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.

Mr. 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 Mr. Cardenas and Mr. Silva remain at-large; all three are also wanted for two robberies, a burglary, and a triple shooting and murder in Grand Junction, Colorado, police said. They declined to elaborate on how the suspects are connected to the other state.

"Our plea is that if people know where they are, call," Chief Davis said. "We have seen the damage that they can inflict."

Sunday shooting

Capt. 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 853-8477 or send an anonymous text-a-tip to 409-7692.

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Like this comment
Posted by amazed
a resident of another community
on Jul 26, 2011 at 11:51 am

Hey Chief Davis,

Instead of forcing all your staff to give up all days off and rack up tens of thousands of dollars in overtime, why not ask for some help from neighboring agencies like Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mountain View and your very own County Sheriff? Or will your ego not allow that?

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 26, 2011 at 11:57 am


do you think the manpower coming from those other agencies is free? Do you think they have officers just standing around with nothing to do? They don't which means even if those officers came from another agency they would be getting paid overtime as well and at a higher rate to boot.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jul 26, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Good call ....Menlo Voter

Good luck to EPA , I have no idea how you protect residents from somebody just walking up and shooting them. There has got to be a way to reduce the guns, even if that was done, how do you stop this type of animal behavior?

Like this comment
Posted by Fedup
a resident of another community
on Jul 26, 2011 at 4:43 pm

I would say cameras mounted all over town but that is invasive and expensive. A community really needs its residents to be willing to report suspicious behavior when they spot it. Unfortunately the residents are forced to live in fear of thugs and retaliation. It's terrorism and perhaps should be prosecuted as such.

Like this comment
Posted by Waiting for BATMAN
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 26, 2011 at 6:52 pm

I know this is ridiculous, but I wish there was some way to get all the decent, hard-working folks out of EPA in the middle of the night and just set fire to the town, leveling it completely taking all the scum along with it. I'm speaking out of frustration and sadness from all this nonsense perpetrated by little wannabe gangstas. I pray for all the victims families that these insects are caught, prosecuted, and receive sentences longer than their natural lives will allow them to fulfill.

Maybe some would say "they're young... they can be rehabilitated", but I'm sorry... you kill a BABY?!?! A 19-year old woman who was an innocent bystander? Another 19yo guy and a 26yo? Will they get to see their lives grow and change? I'm afraid not and their families and friends are left to grieve. Catch them and fry them up, please, Chief Davis!!

Where are The Dark Knight, Travis Bickle, Bernhard Goetz, and Charles Bronson when we need them most?!?!

Like this comment
Posted by The Voice
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 27, 2011 at 6:25 am

Its my understanding that those agencies have teams available to assist and I cant imagine that it is on overtime. As a resident of the Belle Haven I have not seen other police in EPA. We all know when the taskforce is out and no one has seen them. Not from the Sheriff or the Menlo guys. When those guys are out it spreads like wildfire. I do know that Chief Davis has his Ceasefire program. We see how that is working. Those are the guys that are going to make a difference not the new jacks in regular uniform. But the way Davis struts around with his press conferences I believe that his ego wont let other people help though the thugs from EPA are responsible for lots of our crime

Like this comment
Posted by amazed
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jul 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Until the residents of EPA step up it will remain the crime infested gang land it always has been. Sad but true. There are crimes that go down where there are a sea of witnesses and nobody will come forward and do the right thing. No sympathy here as long as there is nothing but apathy there.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm

I love it when folks like amazed state their [word deleted; good discussion, but please try to avoid insults] opinions on issues that they *think* they know about, such as amazed's post. A good many of the crimes, incl violent crimes, in EPA happen w/no witnesses, or witnesses who see a little something off; a car speed by or a person in the dark or a hoodie run off. Some of them don't come forward because they're criminals, but some of them don't come forward because they are are terrified of likely reprisals.

It's too rich when the wealthy withhold their support because witnesses don't step forward, as if that simply is always the case or simply means that people in EPA don't deserve a good life. I don't care about the sympathy of anyone, incl wealthy people. I prefer those who are willing to become informed, because these few articles are just the bare bones, often inaccurately constructed, of what's going on.

But the bottom line is amazed clearly hasn't been reading accurately, because it's DUE TO COMMUNITY SUPPORT lately that so much info has come forward during this spate of frightening violence.

Thank you for the other thoughtful comments - even Batman's (Batman has always been my personal fave, along with Magical Witch Girl Bunny & El Muerto: The Aztec Zombie). I understand Batman's POV even though it's unrealistic. On PA Online, some of the opinions are just asinine & you gotta wonder where people get some of their opinions - again, they're truly uninformed but because they're bright, successful people, they think that automatically makes them informed.

Mr. Stogner, it can take work to stay safe, but in general, people involved in these headline-grabbing shootings aren't innocents, so it's par for the course with the lives they live. I know that's not the case for some of these tragedies, so I don't mean to sound insensitive about those.

For many of us, we have to be canny, vigilant, & streetwise. For example, before moving here, I got the crime stats from police brass for my area. We've done a lot of community work together & chat w/neighbors, keep an eye on each other, report suspicious activity to the police & work with code enforcement, too. I decided when I moved in I'd only lower my standards a certain amount; my neighborhood was going to have to meet me halfway by upping its standards & I helped it do so. Snotty? Yes. Successful? A good portion of the time, yes. Tolerance along w/cynicism is a big help. Attitude-wise, you also have to pay attention to the vibe in your area & prevent it from getting too low. What we save in housing costs we pay for in vigilance.

Most of us are not living in terror; it's not like an ongoing episode of Law and Order. We live our lives, work, laugh, garden, read, post on local message boards, raise our families, enjoy community activities (of which there are many, but they aren't sexy headlines) such as bbqs, church, clubs, sports, volunteer work, etc.

The way I personally avoid having someone walk up & shoot me? I don't hang out on the street at 2am, I'm not a gangster or wannabe, I keep my warrants & wants to an absolute minimum ;-) don't deal dope, fight my dog, hang out w/anyone whose into any of that stuff & I certainly don't confront the thugs about their lifestyles. We've managed to get rid of low level moronic dope dealing neighbors, some street hookers & one neighbor who was running numbers (I swear to dog) - w/out police help. We've gotten police assistance with many other issues - again, it's being vigilant.

Unless there are grants paying for outside agency help, it's all of us - taxpayers - paying for it.

We also have to be vigilant about the thugs in suits who're aiming more predatory equity schemes are way, but that's for another thread.

And finally, for those who want to learn more, this info might help:

Town Hall Meeting

Please join Mayor Carlos Romero and Police Chief Ronald Davis as they host a special “Town Hall” meeting to discuss the recent surge in violence in our community.

Mayor Romero will discuss the City’s strategic priorities regarding public safety and the use of Measure C Funds. Chief Davis will outline the “Summer Violence-Reduction Plan” and discuss our advanced-community policing strategies.

The meeting will provide amble time for residents to ask questions and provide feedback on strategies to stop the violence and enhance public safety in our community.

The meeting will be held on:

Date: Thursday, August 4, 2011

Time: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Location: East Palo Alto City Hall, 2415 University Avenue

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 27, 2011 at 5:10 pm


you are a perfect example of what it takes to stop many of the problems that seem to be endemic to EPA. I agree with you that in most cases the people getting murdered there are usually living a lifestyle that raises their risk of just such an occurance. It is rare indeed when a baby gets shot or an innocent woman gets shot just sitting in her car. A little digging will usualy bring to light the person shot was a dirt bag. Not that their murders are somehow justified by that, but as I said, living a dirtbag lifestyle tends to increase your odds of being murdered.

Again, I applaud you for your efforts at making EPA and your neighborhood a better, safer place to live. My guess is that if there were more folks like you in EPA it would be a better place.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Thanks, MV. There are lotsa good people here, many who've dedicated huge portions of their lives to bettering the community - they are much better people than I am. Sometimes it's just a matter of making yourself a smaller target, so that your chances of having to hang out late at night are nil. Example: I had to do a late night run to the airport recently & the plane was still late. I'd take one of my big, scary looking dogs w/me just to reduce any potential trouble. Is the airport that dangerous? No, but to a woman alone at 1am, when it's nearly deserted, who knows? The dog made it safer for me.

One of the things I really like about EPA is that there are some very laid back, take your time aspects to life here. Since so many of the people here are from cultures who value family & appreciate their time to relax, they know how to relax! You can grab a delicious lunch at a church bbq, enjoy the music at the Collard Greens Festival, buy handmade tamales from your local tamale lady, take a class at Ravenswood Health Center or ask people questions about their culture of origin & they'll be friendly & engaging. We have house concerts, free outdoor movie nights at a gardening co-op (the gardens at the schools are incredible), true civic engagement & puhlentyyyy of opportunity to walk your talk. The gardening co-op offers a lot of classes & you can garden at their locations if you can't have a garden bed. But those aren't things you read much about, because they're not dramatic nor do they feed the stereotype of the city.

For those of us not engaged in a thug's life, as long as we make room for vigilance & up our street smart quotient, we can live fulfilling, enriching lives here. You can also be like some of my neighbors - lazy, harmless alcoholics who contribute little good to the world but don't do harm (except to themselves). Everyone needs a place to live & if they're not criminals, they deserve to be safe.

Since this town has rent control, we have to learn how to deal with:

1. The crime & lack of civic engagement that often accompany people who need affordable housing but don't care about or have the time to care about where they live

2. Protecting ourselves from predatory equity speculators who care nothing for the community or their tenants.

These are not easy things to deal with, as both are complicated. This is where the focus on crime does a disservice (in addition to the crime itself): it keeps people from understanding the other challenges that are equally, but differently, dangerous. The bottom line is that people who want affordable housing have to defend themselves from street thugs & thugs in suits. Frankly, there is too little attention paid to the latter & greater numbers of the innocent suffer at their hands.

This is my analogy: It's trendy to abhor dog fighting, to know an ex-fight dog, blah blah blah. Yes, dog fighting is terrible, it's dramatic & it also makes for many good headlines. What's really a bigger, more insidious problem? Overbreeding dogs, which in turn leads to more abuse, exploitation, neglect & death. It's also either legal or so minimally illegal no one cares. Violence = dog fights, predatory equity speculators = overbreeding. Not very interesting headlines, but incredibly dangerous to those affected.

Okay, I think I'm done preaching for the evening.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2011 at 11:35 pm

News reports tonight 2 men wanted for these murders have been captured....Long high speed chase by CHP I hope it is true.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Mr. Stogner, I am sorry to say that they weren't the right men. The folks caught were in a car of one of the wanted men, but no one in the vehicle were the wanted ones. The chase went from Newark to Lathrop - it sounds like it was dangerous. Charges are to be filed for evading the police & any other wants, but it's really disappointing they are the right people.

Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 28, 2011 at 7:18 am

With Menlo Park Police reducing their staffing levels due to budget saving measures lets hope this does not spill over into our Belle Haven area!!!!

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2011 at 9:36 am

Resident, it unfortunately has to do w/gang problems, so it would depend on what the gangs in your area are up to. There is a meeting at EPA city hall next week w/the mayor & police chief, which might be informative for you. But if you're truly concerned, some phone calls to your PD might be in order. I very much hope BH remains peaceful.

Like this comment
Posted by sadfsf
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm

these youngsters are getting out of hand. revenge killings aint cool, whether done by us or the govt

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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