By: Rodrigo Villegas
Within the span of five days, the city of Davis saw three stabbings — two of them fatal — that shook the college town.
In a news conference on Tuesday, Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel stated that this rapid succession of crimes “to my knowledge, has never occurred in Davis.” He added, “This is different, and the attacks were particularly violent and brazen.”
The first homicide occurred last Thursday and claimed the life of 50-year-old David Henry Breaux, known as the “Compassion Guy” by the Davis Community. A passerby discovered his body Thursday morning at Central Park. The second homicide occurred on Saturday night at Sycamore Park and claimed the life of Karim Abou Najm, a 20-year-old UC Davis senior. Najm was set to graduate from UCD this spring with a degree in computer science. The third stabbing took place at a homeless community at 2nd and L Streets, leaving Kimberly Guillory — a 64-year-old woman — in critical condition.
After about a week-long search, Davis police detained a suspect in the three stabbings at around 5 p.m. on Wednesday, a block away from Sycamore Park. The next day, Davis police announced his arrest. Carlos Reales Dominguez — a 21-year-old former UC Davis student — was arrested on two homicide counts and one attempted homicide charge. Currently, the motives behind the assaults are unclear.
While police originally were reluctant to link the three assaults, in the conference on Thursday, Pytel said, “At this point, we believe that all three are connected.”
With Dominguez now at the Yolo County Jail, Davis residents can breathe a sigh of relief and take steps toward returning to normal. Yet, I cannot help but still feel a sense of unease. Of the 21 years I have lived so far, this was the first time I truly felt frightened going about my day.
I have wandered through the streets of my hometown late at night — comfortably strolling through my neighborhood with headphones in. I remember arriving home a few times to my mother’s incessant worries. She would always ask me if it ever terrified me to walk home alone in the dead of night.
It never did, despite hearing about the violent crimes that have occurred here.
Was it safe? Certainly not. My hometown is not crime-free. Yet, somehow, I felt at ease. As if once everyone disappeared into their homes, the desolate streets and darkness provided a sense of security. (Though, maybe that is solely because I have lived there all my life.)
In my couple of years here in Davis, I always felt safe. Even with some poorly-lit areas, I never worried about biking back home because Davis felt generally safe. After all, the most I heard about was theft.
The past week here, however, has left me paranoid. The three stabbings, the increased police presence, remote classes after 6 p.m., my peers voicing their concerns on Discord and Reddit; it all felt like something out of a horror movie. Dealing with the experience of such a violent situation, in what many would consider a safe community, will take time.
Like me, I know others still feel uncomfortable traveling alone or traveling at night. And while it seems that classes will return to normal next Monday, I do not think Davis will return to its old self by then. Most, if not all of us, need more time to process and heal from the past week so we feel comfortable going about our lives again in the same way we did before.
How long? I am not sure, but only until then will the community be fully restored.