By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – With the community suffering a third stabbing attack late on Monday, the council suspended or postponed their normal agenda and instead held a special update on the investigation.
Chief Pytel noted, “The two homicides were particularly brutal in nature. Both victims had been stabbed numerous times, and it was clear that these were more than maybe just a crime of opportunity or assault based, where you generally have far fewer attacks.”
In terms of whether the crimes are related, “It seems certainly more probable than not that they are (related).”
Pytel at this point is not recommending a curfew.
“Curfews may be very important for keeping people at home so they can’t engage in riotous behavior,” he said. “What that would look like is basically shutting down our, our city, closing down our businesses, and requiring people to be at home at, at certain times. When you have circumstances like this, that’s very difficult to enforce, and if you don’t enforce it, people won’t do it anyway. And right now, I don’t think it’s a good use of resources to try to enforce a curfew.”
He added, “I would rather that people are out and about in number.” He noted, “The more that people are out and about, the more that they’re engaging in regular activities, the more that they’re seen and being seen, the less likely that any crime occurs.”
Pytel noted that surveillance cameras have come up. He noted that the council has already authorized cameras in various public places.
“Council has approved, the department using pole cameras,” Pytel said. “We do have them that are available, and you’ve already authorized us to use them in, in those areas where there’s a particular need due to crime trends or other criminal behavior.
“And so the department is already going through and trying to figure out where location, good locations, may be for the various types of cameras that you have approved under the surveillance technology ordinance.”
But he stopped short of recommending temporary lighting, at least at this time.
Social Services Director Dana Bailey noted, “Davis Community Meals and Housing at this time is able to provide additional sheltering capacity (for unhoused individuals). They’ve opened Paul’s Place location, and right now they’re expanding some of their sheltering availability there. They are working to bring in folks that are seeking shelter to that location.”
She said, “We’ve expanded capacity for people to come in to have more permanent supportive housing where people are not just housed temporarily, but we’re actually connecting them to more longer term housing. So the number of people that we are seeing that are experiencing homelessness has been reduced, and mostly for a good reason in that we’ve expanded capacity for housing here in Davis.”
Bailey emphasized, “It’s really not a capacity issue. The issue is the availability of services.”
Chief Pytel noted that the police received a tip about a person who may match the description of the homicide suspect that was out in some trees over on Second Street.
“The dispatcher who took it marked the information tip and sent it off to the tip line,” he said. “As we had started putting out information, especially after the second homicide, we literally have received hundreds and hundreds of tips. People all over town are reporting many different things of suspicious behavior and sending us photographs and, um, of varying quality in many cases.”
He explained, “The description that was provided was rather vague, and the information was rather vague other than the person was near their camps and appeared to be hiding behind trees at times.”
As such, the information was very vague.
But he said, “As it turns out, it’s likely that the information was accurate and that probably was the suspect who ended up stabbing the third victim last night.”
Councilmember Bapu Vaitla added, “We had a couple of suspects in custody, but then there was another crime committed last night, and so we believe that this suspect is at large—and that’s scary. That’s scary for people.”
Vaitla noted the safety measures that have been put into place— “the measures we take to protect the unhoused through the guidance we give in not going out at night, uh, alone. And if you must, to go out only in groups as well as the increased patrols and police presence, we’re doing everything we can to keep this community as safe as we know how. And that’s really the only response we can make to the very understandable fear that’s out there.”
He added, “We’re doing our best to protect the community. I feel that from the inside, watching everyone work.”
Gloria Partida added, “Sitting in this space right now is very difficult for everyone. The only thing I can say is that we’re sympathetic and that we are doing the best that we can, and we appreciate the suggestions that people bring forward.”
Pytel noted that there is a lot speculation about who the suspect might be.
“We’ve had a number of people let us know that it does match the description of some of our homeless population there.”
However, he said, “one of the things that we heard from the witnesses was the suspect didn’t necessarily look homeless.”
He said, “They were described more as student-like and not necessarily disheveled in a way that maybe a homeless person might be.”
He said, “So there is a possibility that the suspect is homeless, but also there’s a, a good possibility that suspect is not.”
Vice Mayor Josh Chapman added, “I’m concerned and I’m scared and I’m upset and I want answers. I want this to be over, much like everyone who has talked here this evening. This is not…something I ever thought that would happen in my time on city council.”
He said, “We need to find a plan to make sure that the most vulnerable people in our community have somewhere to go tonight.”
Chapman added, “If we woke up in the morning and somebody was stabbed, and we went on with our day, and it didn’t affect us the way that it’s affecting this community, in the violation of what we perceive or what we know as safety in our lives, I wouldn’t want to live in that community. I wouldn’t want to live in a community where I was desensitized to this type of violence and this type of behavior.”
Mayor Arnold, on those lines, added, “There are communities where three killings in three days would be a slow weekend.” But he said, “That’s not the community that we live in, nor should it be. This shouldn’t happen anywhere.”
He said that what we are doing now and will continue to do is: “Not be reactive, be proactive, and be responsive to what’s needed.”
He said that “soon we’re going to catch this perpetrator and/or perpetrators.” He added, “These are our spaces. And the work we’ll need to do soon is to take those spaces back, that this violent perpetrator does not get to own these spaces. They’re ours, and we’re taking them back.”
Mayor Arnold concluded, “While our sense of normalcy and security has been fractured, while our sense of identity has been challenged, our sense of unity only grows stronger. We will remain united. We will hold and keep our families close. We will walk together, we’ll bike together.”