A 15-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old honor student outside a Del Paso Heights party last month, Sacramento police said.
The boy, whose name was not released because of his age, is believed to have been the gunman in the March 23 killing of Jelisa Office, a Rio Linda High School junior, according to Sacramento police Sgt. Matthew Young.
Investigators have made arrests in nine of the city's 14 homicides this year. He is the second juvenile arrested. Of 24 people arrested this year in connection with killings in the city and unincorporated areas of the county, eight have been teenagers, records show.
"Unfortunately, the age of this suspect is not that much of an anomaly anymore," Young said. "We're seeing younger and younger people settling common disputes with firearms."
The boy, an alleged gang member, was arrested Tuesday morning near 11th Avenue and 44th Street in Oak Park, according to police. Young called the case a "priority" for the Police Department and said some members of the boy's family helped him remain free.
"It's very unsettling for us when we learn that this individual's family members knew we were seeking him, knew the severity of the crime and yet actively concealed him from us," Young said.
According to police, Office was shot outside a chaperoned party on Cypress Street. When more than the designated 40 people showed up, the parent chaperoning the party -- rewarding his daughter's improved grades -- began turning some youths away.
Office, who had offered to help clean up, left about 11 p.m. Minutes later, she was shot.
Police said there was an argument earlier in the evening that may have led to the shooting, but they do not know if the suspect was involved in the earlier altercation.
Office was not involved in that argument and was an innocent bystander, police said.
She was a well-liked student and active in the Black Student Union. She was hoping to attend Grambling State University in Louisiana and dreamed of becoming a doctor, friends said.
"Over an innocuous, gang-related confrontation, they killed this poor girl," Young said. "Any homicide is absolutely horrible, but to have a victim like this with so much promise, it was very important for us to identify this suspect and get him off the street as quickly as possible."
Investigators are looking for other people who may have been involved with the shooting. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP.
Office's killing broke a two-week period of relative calm in the city. After a violent start to the year, the Police Department shifted some personnel to respond to neighborhoods where violence was on the rise.