Crime - Sacto 911

Elk Grove suffers rough week as violent events disturb peace

Windows smashed as Mercedes that crashed into Elk Grove restaurant towed away

Police detained several people after a Mercedes Benz crashed into an Elk Grove sushi restaurant. Gunshots were heard nearby as car's occupants fled.
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Police detained several people after a Mercedes Benz crashed into an Elk Grove sushi restaurant. Gunshots were heard nearby as car's occupants fled.

Elk Grove was rocked by a series of violent events this week that came in quick succession, leaving many residents of the Sacramento suburb feeling uneasy.

Most of the violence centered in the East Franklin area of the city, which is dotted with tract homes, several large schools and undeveloped fields. The most recent event occurred Friday night, when a man in the 9900 block of Bruceville Road shot at his girlfriend and family members before killing himself with the weapon, according to Elk Grove Police. No one else was injured, police said.

Also on Friday, Elk Grove police announced the arrest of four people in connection with a wild series of events that included gunshots, a car crash into a fusion restaurant and a handgun found underneath an infant in a car seat.

Police allege the four suspects committed various crimes: Christopher Pak, 25, of Elk Grove, possession of marijuana for sale; Mark Ansley Oliver, 25, and Brandon James Claypool, 27, both for endangering the life of a child, participation in a street gang and possession of a firearm by a felon; and Shaniece Nicole Williams, 23, child endangerment.

Officer Christopher Trim, police spokesman, said the department received three calls about 2:50 p.m. Thursday. One concerned shots on Tittle Way, another was about shots fired at Atkins Drive and Whitelock Parkway, and the third call was about a car crashing into the Wrap N’ Roll sushi burrito restaurant at the same intersection.

“Three separate calls, but they were related,” Trim said.

The episode unfolded when Pak saw Oliver and Claypool outside his Tittle Way home via surveillance cameras, which he was monitoring remotely, police said. Pak drove home and confronted the other party, and then shots were fired.

“As far as who shot who, that’s still under investigation,” Trim said.

Possibly three vehicles, including a black Mercedes sedan, fled the location, eventually arriving at the intersection of Atkins Drive and Whitelock Parkway, where at least one additional shot was fired, according to police. The black Mercedes sped through the intersection before crashing into the restaurant.

Shortly after, officers found Oliver and Claypool inside a vehicle driven by Williams. A handgun was inside the car underneath an infant in a car seat. Investigators later determined that Oliver and Claypool had been occupants in the abandoned Mercedes.

During a search of Pak’s house Thursday night, police found marijuana and evidence of a sales operation.

The Thursday incidents occurred in broad daylight on the streets of quiet neighborhoods and near Franklin High School and Toby Johnson Middle School as students were being dismissed from class. Elk Grove police cruisers sped past parents and children, while a helicopter from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department flew overhead.

Hours later, in a separate case, authorities arrested a 16-year-old Franklin High School student for allegedly posting a threat on Twitter warning others not to attend school on Friday. The student, whose name was not released, posted a picture of a person wearing a ski mask and holding what appeared to be an assault rifle, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. He was taken to Sacramento County juvenile hall on suspicion of making criminal threats by means of an electronic communication device.

Deputies also arrested Jonathan Huynh, 19, of Elk Grove on suspicion of possessing an illegal assault rifle, allegedly the weapon seen in the Twitter post. But Huynh was not arrested as part of the criminal threat, officials said.

Franklin High School classes were held as scheduled Friday after authorities determined the threat was a hoax.

Earlier in the week, a 14-year-old Toby Johnson Middle School student was robbed by three teens near Lotus Pond Way and McLean Drive just after school. One of the robbers, believed to be a teenager, revealed the handle of a handgun during the encounter after an adult witness tried to intervene, according to police.

The slew of threats against students had Elk Grove Unified School District officials scrambling this week, with multiple emails sent out warning students and parents to be vigilant.

“If they see something, we want them to say something,” said Xanthi Pinkerton, district spokeswoman.

The flurry of criminal activity has left many residents of the suburb of 160,000 feeling anxious. Somi Azeem, 36, moved her family from North Sacramento a few years ago hoping to find a peaceful lifestyle in Elk Grove.

“We don’t feel safe,” said Azeem, a mother of four who lives on Tittle Way, where shots rang out Thursday. “Elk Grove is supposed to be a nice area.”

“I always wait for my daughter to call me so I know she’s safe,” said Azeem, whose 10-year-old heard the gunfire as she walked home from school.

Muhammad Zafar, 71, believes crime has steadily increased since he moved to Elk Grove in 2003. Zafar’s convenience store, next to Wrap N’ Roll, was robbed in late 2013. Zafar said he has witnessed fights and drug deals in the parking lot since he opened nine years ago.

Crime statistics tell a different story, however. Violent crime in the city dropped 2 percent to 5 percent in 2015 compared with 2014, according to Trim, the police spokesman. The city saw one homicide in 2015 vs. three the year prior. Property crimes, which includes larcenies and petty thefts, edged slightly up between 1 percent to 2 percent in the same period.

Data for 2015 are preliminary because the department is still compiling the information, Trim said.

“We don’t know if this is a prelude of what’s to come or an anomaly,” Trim said of the events this week.

Assistant Police Chief Bryan Noblett said the department has increased patrols in the East Franklin area in response to the violence. Noblett and Mayor Gary Davis expressed hope that they could use this opportunity to construct a dialogue with residents.

Davis plans a Feb. 11 community meeting at Toby Johnson Middle School at 6 p.m. He hopes area residents will form a community association and “take charge of the neighborhood.”

“I hope we can really nip this in the bud before it grows,” the mayor said.

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang

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