Shannon Gregg always said he would die for his kids.
And so, when a commotion erupted in the front yard where his daughter and her friends were gathered Wednesday night, that protective instinct took over, said Gregg’s longtime girlfriend and mother of their three children.
Several chaotic minutes later, Gregg, 41, was bleeding to death from a stab wound to the heart, apologizing to her as he lay on the lawn of the family’s Arden Arcade home. Two others were wounded in the attack, she said: a neighbor, 29, who tried to intervene, and a 15-year-old boy who is a friend of Gregg’s daughter.
“He did love his kids,” Gregg’s girlfriend said Thursday, breaking into sobs.
The Sacramento Bee is not naming the woman because she is a witness to a crime that authorities describe as gang-related. No one had been arrested in connection with the killing.
Sacramento County sheriff’s Sgt. Lisa Bowman said detectives have found no evidence that the victims were affiliated with gangs, or that they were armed. She said investigators believe the entire confrontation likely stemmed from a misperception by the assailants that the 15-year-old was a rival gang member. The misperception had something to do with the teen’s appearance, Bowman said, but she would not elaborate.
On Thursday, detectives were still working to identify the assailants and how the violence unfolded. Bowman said deputies had pieced together the following scenario: The 15-year-old victim was at a store near Wyda Way and Bell Street in Arden Arcade when he was harassed by a group who apparently thought he was from a rival gang. The people harassing him used gang-related language and showed gang signs with their hands. The teen ignored the group, turned around and walked back to the Wyda Way home.
Gregg’s girlfriend told The Bee that the 15-year-old victim had been with friends, including her daughter, when he was harassed and that they returned to the home with him.
Not long after, the girlfriend said, the people who had been harassing the teen pulled up to the home in a car and started an argument with him and his friends, who were outside. She said Gregg ran outside and she followed.
Suddenly, she said, people were yelling for her to call 911: Gregg had been stabbed. A neighbor and friend of the family who was driving by stopped to help. He also was stabbed, she said, as well as the 15-year-old.
Sheriff’s officials also said there were two victims besides Gregg but had not identified them. As of Thursday afternoon, authorities said the two others were stable in hospitals.
Deputies responding to 911 calls about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday found a confusing scene. Bowman said Gregg was on the front lawn and taken to a hospital, where he died early Thursday. The two other victims showed up in an emergency room, where medical staff contacted deputies.
Thursday afternoon, the grass where Gregg had fallen was still stained with his blood. His girlfriend – a hospital visitor’s badge still stuck to her sweatshirt – struggled to comprehend how gang violence had torn apart her family.
She described Gregg as tall and handsome, with a great sense of humor and a devotion to family. He worked as a tree trimmer and could fix just about anything, she said.
Now, her partner of 16 years was dead; his last words: “I’m sorry. I love you.” Her daughters were afraid to go to school, her young son devastated. The neighborhood where she had been raised, where she had lived for 44 years, had betrayed her.
“We’ve got drug activity down there,” she said, gesturing one direction down her street. Then pointing the other way: “We’ve got drug activity down there. We’re just surrounded. Now they’re taking over Howe Park. It’s sad.”
She remembers happier times on Wyda Way. “It didn’t used to be like this. What has this world come to?”
Call The Bee’s Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038. Follow her on Twitter @Kim_Minugh. Bee staff writer Bill Lindelof contributed to this report.