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El Cerrito High student is gunned down in south Richmond

on January 12, 2011

A 16-year-old El Cerrito High School student was shot and killed Monday afternoon while leaving the south Richmond apartment of his grandmother, police said. One adult and two juveniles have been arrested in connection with the crime.

Officers found 16-year-old Deshawn Grisby dead with a single wound to the chest when they arrived at the 4000 block of Fleming Avenue at 3:35 p.m. on Monday, only minutes after the shooting.

Witnesses told police a white Dodge Avenger pulled up to the residence at around 3:30 p.m. A man got out, fired multiple shots at Grisly and then got back in the car which drove off, said Richmond police Sgt. Bisa French.

Witnesses provided police with a description of the shooter and a license plate number to the car, said French. Two hours later, an officer spotted the vehicle just east of Kennedy High School. Police pulled the car over at South 52nd Street and Potrero Avenue and arrested the three young men in the vehicle. French said police also found a stolen handgun in the car.

French said all three suspects are Richmond residents; two are 16-year-olds and the third was identified as 18-year-old Jean Fordjor. Police questioned the three suspects late Monday night and later booked the minors into Juvenile Hall and Fordjor into County Jail in Martinez.

The motive for the shooting has not yet been determined, but police are looking into whether it had anything to do with a fight at El Cerrito High earlier in the day, said French.

In a Facebook page set up in memory of Grisby, one friend posted, “…none of this needed to lead up to gettin yo life took .. but we down here forever reppin yo name dashawn !”

Police will hand the case on to county prosecutors on Thursday, said French.

Grisby’s murder—Richmond’s first in 2011—echoes many of the 21 homicides of last year. Like the majority of those murdered in 2010, Grisby was a young black male. 18 to 24 year-old black males only account for about 10 percent of the city’s population.

Despite Monday’s murder, Richmond police have made significant progress in fighting crime. Mirroring statewide and Bay Area trends, violent crime in Richmond dropped considerably in 2010. Last year, firearm assaults decreased by a quarter and the number of homicides were more than halved, down from 47 in 2009.

But one problem continues to plague the Richmond PD: low clearance rates. Last year, Richmond police solved only 24 percent of the city’s homicides, compared with 42 percent in San Francisco and 51 percent in Oakland.

The numbers are even worse when it comes to Richmond’s young black males. Not a single arrest has been made in any of the 10 homicide cases from 2010 involving black males under the age of 30.

Grisby’s murder breaks the current trend as police have already arrested three suspects in connection with the crime.

Police credit community assistance for the arrests. “Witness cooperation has been instrumental,” said French. “They identified the vehicle and license plate number.”

The challenge lying ahead for police is to prevent any retaliatory attacks from taking place. El Cerrito High has beefed up campus security and a basketball game on Tuesday was closed to the public.

Lt. Arnold Threets, head of Richmond PD’s Special Investigation Division, said in an interview last fall that violence between young adults remains a major challenge. Most of the violence used to be related to the drug trade, he said. “When I first started, there was violence but it was all ultimately about making money. They didn’t want anything getting in the way of their money-making,” Threets said.

But today, it’s less about money and more about status and respect says Threets. “These teenagers are really concerned about how they’re perceived in the community. And they are up in arms about how they’re received and they’ll kill you if they think you’re disrespecting them.”

More than 500 people have ‘liked’ the Facebook page honoring Grisby and dozens have posted messages on the page’s wall. While the majority of posts offer condolences to the family, one message ominously reads, “… dont trip we got you. we aint leting this one go. hell naw, we tripin. its really beef now, so i hope this what they wanted…”

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