Jaulon Clavo’s death, and a plea for justice

A memorial for Jaulon Clavo is on the fence outside of the football stadium at Grant High School.
A memorial for Jaulon Clavo is on the fence outside of the football stadium at Grant High School. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

For now, some of us are dwelling on No. 5, the number on the jersey worn by Jaulon Clavo, the Grant High School senior nicknamed JJ, who was shot to death on Friday afternoon.

He and a few friends had driven to a Popeye’s for something to eat and were headed back to Grant, where Clavo was to suit up and play cornerback in a playoff game that evening.

At 3:45 p.m., near the four-way stop at the seemingly quiet corner of Silver Eagle and Mabel, someone fired into his car, hitting a passenger in an arm, and Clavo in the neck, mortally wounding him.

In an outpouring Monday at Grant, Clavo’s friends embraced his grieving mother in a vain attempt to console her. Adults vowed to protect children. Many wore No. 5, which was fitting and tragic. A boy of 17 who aspired to play college football never will have that chance, or any other chance.

Violence directed at adolescents is a scourge, an epidemic, and a law enforcement and public health crisis. We must not become inured to it. We cannot help but think of another number, 14.

That’s the number of teenagers who have become homicide victims in Sacramento County this year. In Police Patrol District 2, which encompasses the North Sacramento area and Grant High School, three youngsters’ lives have been cut short, including Clavo’s.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 4,678 young people were homicide victims in 2010. That’s 13 each day. It’s the third leading cause of death for young people, after accidents and suicide. Another 1,600 were treated in hospitals for violence-related injuries.

In 2013, the homicide rate for teenagers dipped to 40-year lows, 6.7 for every 100,000 youths ages 15-19. It could rise some in 2015, as overall crime is rising.

Every one of those deaths is an unspeakable loss, and, as is the nature of people in this city, Sacramento has been moved by Jaulon Clavo’s murder. DeMarcus Cousins of the Kings is paying for the funeral and wrote “JJ” on his game shoes.

There’s another even more fundamental way for the community to pay its respects, however. Tears aside, this death remains unsolved. Someone knows something, and whoever that is must come forward. Nothing will bring No. 5 back, and that is wrenching. But justice would surely honor his memory and his life.