Richmond had its first homicide of 2013 on Monday. The Richmond Police Department identified the victim as Richmond resident William Wheeler, 26. His body was found at around 3 a.m., alongside the train tracks near Lucas Park, at Lucas Avenue and 10th Street. He died of apparent gunshot wounds.
It was the city’s first homicide since late November. Richmond ended 2012 with 18 homicides, the lowest number since 2001.
Neighbors near the park said they heard gunshots around midnight or 1 a.m., and Richmond Police Detective Nicole Abetkov confirmed that the city’s ShotSpotter gunshot detection system picked up shots at around 1 a.m., though the system placed the shots several blocks from where the body was found. Police responded to the location indicated by ShotSpotter, but found nothing, Abetkov said. Around 3 a.m., someone flagged down an officer to report a body in the area, Abetkov said. The victim was declared dead at the scene.
“It sounded like just one gun, but just going off nine times, just bam bam bam bam bam right in a row, like they held their finger on the trigger or something,” said Julie Stahl, who lives across the street from Lucas Park. “Seemed like it wasn’t going to stop, seemed like it was going to go on forever.”
By 11 a.m. on Monday, the only people at the scene were the cleanup crew, digging blood out of the mud alongside the railroad tracks. Tammi and Douglas Jones, a mother and son team from Advance Crime Scene Restoration, tipped shovelfuls of dirt and debris into a red biohazard bag to be incinerated. The area was just outside the chain-link fence that separates Lucas Park from the train tracks. A mattress, desk, children’s toys, broken bottles and stereo parts were piled nearby. A piece of plywood was smeared with what appeared to be bloodstains, including a visible handprint.
The Richmond Police Department has made no arrest in the case. The Department is asking residents for information. “Any information at all, no matter how small or minute people think it is,” said Abetkov.
Residents can call Detective Daniel Garcia at 510-621-1244 or the anonymous tip line: 510-232-TIPS.