Crime - Sacto 911

Police suspect marijuana was factor in Natomas fatal shooting

Walter Michael Gibson, 53, of Rio Oso was killed Monday, Sept. 28, 2015, in a shooting at a Natomas shopping mall.
Walter Michael Gibson, 53, of Rio Oso was killed Monday, Sept. 28, 2015, in a shooting at a Natomas shopping mall.

The fatal shooting of a Sutter County man in a busy Natomas shopping center is believed to be related to marijuana, Sacramento police said Tuesday.

Police officials said the shooting was not a random act, but declined to give details.

“Based on the evidence, it’s related to narcotics, specifically marijuana,” said Sgt. Doug Morse, a Sacramento Police Department spokesman.

Morse added that police are seeking a least one person in the killing that occurred 8:30 p.m. Monday in the parking lot of Natomas Marketplace. The center is anchored by such tenants as Wal-Mart, Staples and Home Depot. Police did not release descriptions or specify the number of attackers.

On Tuesday, the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as Walter Michael Gibson, 53, of Rio Oso, a community of 750 people 26 miles north of Sacramento along Highway 70.

At the Gibson house, a group of friends gathered in the backyard to comfort family members. They declined to talk to a reporter.

Gibson is survived by his wife, Arlene, and two teenage children.

A neighbor described Gibson as a family guy who loved to go fishing. “He’s always been a good neighbor,” said the man, who did not want to be identified out of fear of the shooter, since nobody has been arrested. “It’s just unbelievable.”

Mike Scully, superintendent of Browns Elementary School in Rio Oso, said he knew the Gibsons, and worked with Arlene Gibson, who was a teaching assistant at the school for several years.

Scully said the victim was a longtime employee of the Campbell Soup plant in Sacramento. Most recently, Gibson worked as a maintenance manager at Woodland-based PGP International, according to an employee there.

Scully said the drug speculation involving Gibson “doesn’t fit his profile.”

Gibson did not have a criminal record in Sacramento County, according to online court records.

Anyone with information regarding the shooting can call the Police Department’s dispatch center at 916-264-5471 or Crime Alert at 916-443-4357, or text a tip to 274637. Enter SACTIP, followed by the tip information.

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang Bee staff writers Bill Lindelof and Cathy Locke contributed to this report.