Davis police responded to an emergency request about an eviction enforcement gone wrong on Sept. 29. The incident turned out to be the most recent shooting in series of several in Davis since May.
A Yolo County Sheriff’s deputy visited a resident on Hanover Drive to enforce the eviction, when during the discussion the resident confronted the deputy with a knife. The deputy responded with her firearm and shot the resident once in the torso, according to the press release.
When Davis police officers arrived, the resident was injured but still holding on to the knife. The resident, Eleni Bekele, 46, refused to drop the knife, proceeding to throw it at one officer from the second story balcony; the knife struck the officer in the head.
Bekele was taken to UC Davis Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries and arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. The Davis police officer was not injured.
Several other incidents involving shootings occurred this summer.
On Sept. 26, a shooting at University Village Apartments at 625 Cantrill Dr. resulted in four arrests. At about 1 a.m. two partygoers, one female and the other male, became involved in an argument. The woman was kicked out of the party and returned an hour later with her brother and two other male friends, according to the city police’s press release.
The female and two of the male suspects tried to enter through the third-floor apartment’s front door using baseball bats. One partygoer was assaulted with a bat. A third male suspect then fired four shots at the apartment. One of those shots hit an adjacent apartment.
The four suspects attempted to flee in a vehicle but were stopped and arrested by Davis patrol officers responding to several calls from residents at the complex. None of the arrested were Davis residents.
One University Village resident said she left the gathering before the argument occurred. She woke up to the sound of gunshots from the apartment on the floor below her.
“That was my alarm clock – the shots,” said Melissa Hayes, sophomore clinical nutrition major.
Hayes recalls seeing the female suspect before she went to her own apartment.
“It’s really scary because you never expect something like that to happen,” she said. “It makes you think of other school shootings, people getting hurt for really stupid reasons. It could happen anywhere. Words can really affect people. You don’t know how someone can take words.“
On Aug. 8, a person shot into an occupied apartment on the 1100 block of J Street. There were no arrests or injuries.
Furthermore, on May 7, there was another attempted burglary with shots fired on Drew Circle in South Davis.
On Sept. 13, at 21 and Seventh in downtown Davis, one individual shot another after a large fight was broken up in the early morning. Although there was security camera footage, officers could not locate the suspect and no injuries were reported.
“I think you have to look at each of these shootings individually,“ said Press Information Officer Lt. Thomas Waltz. “They are unrelated. I supposed you could say a couple of them had alcohol in common and had taken place in or around groups of partying.“
Waltz maintains that Davis is just like any other city, with its own share of crime, parolees and sex offenders.
“It’s not uncommon that we have a shooting; we have a few a year,” he said. “It happens that they were so close together.“
The police department is working with the city and other organizations on a safe party initiative program that it is in the process of being unveiled.
The police are making efforts to educate party hosts on safe planning. Especially when alcohol is involved, as two of the shooting incidents did, it is important to have a plan to monitor attendees.
In the age of text messaging, it is not uncommon for a small gathering to become a 300 to 500-person venue. Being prepared can prevent fights, injuries, sexual assaults and robberies.
Whether these are isolated incidents or not, Davis residents are shocked at their frequency within such a short period of time.
These incidents mark the need to reinforce the safe-party initiative, said Gary Sandy, director of local government relations at UC Davis.
“We really need to get student awareness up about the very real risks to health and safety to having large and out-of-control parties,” Sandy said. “We are not saying don’t party, but party safe and responsibly; have rules.”
Associate Executive Vice Chancellor of Campus Community Relations Rahim Reed, suggested that although the campus and city police chiefs are probably already working together, they should issue a joint statement reassuring the community of their collaboration. Given that the shootings are unusual for the city, a statement would assure students and residents that the police forces are working together to ensure safety in the community, he said.
POOJA KUMAR can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.