Arrest in Clavo case brings reflection and relief

Nicole Clavo arrives at the funeral of her son, Jaulon “J.J.” Clavo, in November. On Thursday, she tearfully thanked the community for the efforts to catch her son’s killer.
Nicole Clavo arrives at the funeral of her son, Jaulon “J.J.” Clavo, in November. On Thursday, she tearfully thanked the community for the efforts to catch her son’s killer. aseng@sacbee.com

Though the suspect has been behind bars almost since the crime was committed, Thursday’s official arrest in the killing of 17-year-old Jaulon Clavo is a relief, for his family and his community.

More than three months have passed since the popular Grant High School football player was killed in his car as he and his teammates headed out for a bite before a Nov. 13 game. Police said the shooter walked up to Clavo’s Chevy Malibu and fired five times in broad daylight, fatally striking the athlete known as “J.J.” and wounding a senior fullback, Malik Johnson.

Bullied by gangs and plagued with street crime, the neighborhood around Grant High has not historically been known for witness cooperation. The North Sacramento patrol district where Clavo was killed had averaged a murder a month last year at the time of the shooting. J.J. Clavo, a good kid, was the district’s third teenage homicide victim in less than a year.

Police said the suspect, a 16-year-old alleged gang member named Keymontae Lindsey, was not aiming at Clavo. Whether someone else in the car may have been the target, they wouldn’t say. But, they said, more arrests are expected. So credit is to be given to whoever stepped up with information. Bearing witness in gang neighborhoods requires bravery.

On Thursday, Clavo’s devastated mother, Nicole, wept as she thanked the community that kept her son’s face in the news and that embraced her. Meanwhile, police noted other important factors without which the arrest might not have happened, including a foray by the city into gunshot-detection technology.

Police in June covered 3 square miles of North Sacramento with ShotSpotter microphones that instantly alerted them to the shooting at Silver Eagle and Maple, allowing them to collect bullet casings within minutes. They said they detained Lindsey at a traffic stop the next day and confiscated a gun, but the charge on which he was held was unrelated to Clavo’s killing. Only later, they said, did ballistics link his weapon to the scene.

Clearly, the ShotSpotter technology was a smart investment, and the city should support its expansion to Sacramento’s other high-crime neighborhoods. And North Sacramento should continue to nurture the public spiritedness that allowed the community to rally around Nicole Clavo.

But this arrest is also a cause for reflection, a point underscored Thursday by community leader Derrell Roberts, whose Roberts Family Development Center collected $40,000 in reward money for information leading to the conviction of Clavo’s killer.

“A 17-year-old is dead, and a 16-year-old could now spend most of his life behind bars for it,” Roberts told a Sacramento Bee editorial board member. “This impacts two families. So whatever we’ve been doing the last few months, we’d better keep doing it, because we need to address how this could have happened – why some kid could walk up to a vehicle and shoot into it five times, and think that that was OK.”

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