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Richmond mayor remembers 2013 homicide victims

on December 21, 2013

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin’s eyes welled with tears Friday night as she paid tribute to the 16 people killed in Richmond this year.

“These were living, breathing people,” she said during a Friday night ceremony in the city library’s Madeline F. Whittlesey Community Room.

“The sadness is overwhelming, but the memory lives on.”

McLaughlin, who holds monthly public meetings with residents, dedicates the last meeting each December to memorializing the year’s slaying victims.

McLaughlin, gathered with a handful of residents and press, read from a Richmond Police list the names and ages of the homicide victims in chronological order of their deaths: William Wheeler, 26; Lincoln Plair, 20; Dimarea Young, 19; James Tucker, 29; Airian Holly, 16; Mercedes Williams, 19; Roy Hill III, 22; Rodel Sarmiento, 43; Juan Medrano, 20; Bonnita Todd, 64; Jose Garcia, 53; Stacy Marshall, 51; Faheim Smith, 31; Derrick Wilson, 21; Larry Kittleson, 49; and Samuel Morales, 23.

The mayor then asked for a moment of silence to “remember these 16 individuals in our hearts knowing that we lost them too soon.”

Homicides in Richmond decreased in 2013 from 18 in 2012. The annual totals represent steep drops from just a few years ago, when annual killing totals routinely reached the 40s, and spates of gunfire between rival neighborhoods would grip the city for weeks at a time.

“We know we’re moving in the right direction, but we have this memorial service, this small, little reflection time to remember each life lost,” McLaughlin said.

She said Richmond’s residents deserve special credit for helping reduce violence in the city.

“The community really understands that they way to build peace is … by holding hands and saying, ‘we’re for one another. We’re for our neighborhoods,’” she said.

A 17th homicide victim, Raymond Harris, 34, of San Pablo was shot and killed at the Richmond BART station in March. The station is not considered part of Richmond Police’s jurisdiction.


  1. ellis gold on December 22, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks for doing a good job covering Richmond.
    The Mayor and the people are one with each other. She is a blessing for this community. Please help us locate a comparable successor.
    Here’s to a great 2014 for all of us

  2. Kennedy Grad on December 22, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Thanks RPD! RPD has done a superb job in reducing violent crime in Richmond.

  3. tizzle404 on December 28, 2013 at 4:19 am

    Thank you very much my brother was Fahiem Smith. Now only if the police can solve these cases and not let people get away with murder.

    • Tony Suggs on December 28, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      The Community is letting people get away with murder by not coming forward with information that would solve most of these cases.

      Blame our society, not the police. They only get involved after the act has been committed.

      • tizzle404 on January 7, 2014 at 4:04 am

        So police only solve cases with people coming forward with info? OK so they shouldn’t be called detectives. They should be called note takers. Go out there and canvas the community they can do more.

        • Kim Alexander on January 8, 2014 at 4:56 pm


        • Tony Suggs on January 9, 2014 at 11:03 am

          Obviously you do not know how investigations work. They do go out and canvass the neighbors.

          Since they, the police are not there when the crime is committed, all they can do is ask for help from the people that may have witness the act or have some knowledge of it after the fact.

          But if the “community” does not step forward and provide the information, the leads, the police are powerless to arrest anyone.

          You say they can do more, what do you suggest they do?

          • tizzle404 on January 13, 2014 at 4:18 am

            Have you had a family member murdered in Richmond?

          • tizzle404 on January 13, 2014 at 4:23 am

            They canvas one time and that’s it , dude if you haven’t had a murder case of a family member or friend in Richmond investigated by the police, you have nothing else to say!

  4. Tony SUggs on January 15, 2014 at 10:37 am

    I have personally known several people that were murdered in Richmond, Vallejo and Pinole.

    I had relatives murdered back east. So yes I have just as much a right to voice an opinion as anyone else.

    Secondly, I am very familiar with police investigations. Just because you only see the police “canvas” a neighborhood once, doesn’t mean the investigation is done.

    There is more to investigating any crime than just knocking on doors.

    So going back to the original post, the police alone can not solve all crimes. I personally know people that had information about a particular shooting but refused to inform the police.

    They did not want to be a snitch. As long as that is the mentality of the majority of residents in Richmond and any where else, most murders will go unsolved and unprosecuted.

  5. Chester V. on February 5, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Does anyone know if there has been a trial or when it will be for the 3 men accused of killing Lincoln Plair? Or any other information about the case….

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