Richmond police charged three teenagers on Monday in connection with the March 4 fatal shooting of 20-year-old Lincoln Plair. Plair was killed on the 100 block of 6th Street in Richmond while washing a car.
“All three are affiliated with a gang active in North Richmond known as the Swerve Gang,” Detective Stina Johanson said. The shooting took place in a rival neighborhood, though Plair is not believed to have been involved in gang activity.
The Contra Costa County district attorney’s office charged Richmond residents James Green, 18, Derrick Cooper and Antwone Johnson, both 19, following the arrest of Green on May 31. Cooper and Johnson were already in custody for an unrelated shooting and illegal gun possession, Johanson said.
Plair was known in the community for his service work. “He is the most honorable man I knew,” Susie Garcia, a close friend of the victim, said. “He wanted to make a homeless shelter and make Richmond a better place to live in.”
Plair’s former employer Toody Maher said, “He spent every day looking for people who needed help.”
The arrests followed a spate of shootings over the last eight weeks that killed three people, and which prompted an outcry from residents at recent City Council meetings. On Tuesday, the Richmond City Council unanimously passed a resolution to support the California State Senate Life Act Bills, which would strengthen state gun controls.
According to Deputy Police Chief Ed Medina, increased prosecutions for gun violence are the result of a change in policing tactics by the force. “We deployed our officers to work in specific communities, building officer-community relationships,” Medina said. “We have a lot more communication between the force and the community, a lot more tips are coming in.”
The Richmond Police Department’s homicide closure rate – cases that lead to an arrest or an arrest warrant – increased from 29 percent in 2011 to 55 percent last year, as previously reported in Richmond Confidential.
For Lincoln Plair’s loved ones, statistics like these are not just numbers; they are personal. “I am just so grateful to the investigators here in Richmond,” Garcia said. “All of his friends are very happy, and sad because we miss him. We were just hoping that they would be arrested and exposed.”
“We’re living in a war zone,” a source who provided a tip to police, and asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said. “This is a bit of hope for us. The whole community is celebrating, people never thought that they’d be caught.”
Garcia and other community members are arranging a bike ride from Richmond to Oakland in Plair’s honor on Sunday– which would have been his 21st birthday. Community members will meet at Nicholl Park at 10 a.m.