Teens left Santa Cruz park when gang members showed up, friend of fatal shooting victim says

By Jennifer Squires

April 27th 2010

SANTA CRUZ — A Santa Cruz teen shot and killed in a Westside park last weekend left Grandview Park with his friends less than an hour before the shooting because suspected gang members drove through the area, a friend said Tuesday.
“They came looking for gang members and found the wrong people,” said Dmitri Palmer, who was with Carl Reimer at the park around 11 p.m. Friday. “We’re not gang members. We hang out there every day. That’s where we live.”
The teens had been in the park at 90 Grandview St. listening to music after a day of surfing and hanging out. But when the suspected gang members flashed their headlights and yelled gang slurs at the young people hanging out in the park, the teens decided to leave because it seemed unsafe.
“We stood there for a minute and I said ‘We shouldn’t be here. I think people are going to come back,'” Palmer said. They returned to the Mission Gardens apartment complex, where some of them live. About 45 minutes later — just before midnight — Reimer, 19, and a 15-year-old boy decided to walk home, Palmer said.
Less than two minutes later, the teens still at the apartments heard shots ring out.
The younger boy, who was not hurt, ran back to the complex and said Reimer had been shot.
Palmer, who had known Reimer since the sixth grade, ran down the driveway looking for his friend. He said he found Reimer on a neighbor’s stoop, bleeding and asking for help. “He’s Advertisement like ‘They shot me. They shot me in the arm,'” Palmer said.He said he helped Reimer take off his hooded sweatshirt and found a bullet in the teen’s chest.
“I took off my sweatshirt and started applying pressure,” Palmer said. “I just held him.” Medics arrived shortly thereafter and took Reimer to Dominican Hospital, then Valley Medical Center in San Jose. He died Saturday morning.
Palmer, who turned 18 just days before the deadly shooting, said he and his friends aren’t gang members. But there are gangsters who hang out at Grandview Park, especially on the weekends, and believed the assailants mistook his group of buddies for those people, he said.
Palmer said neither he nor Reimer’s other friends intend on changing their habits because of the shooting. Since Reimer’s death, the teens have kept vigil at the park and apartment complex.
“We’ve been sitting right there where the shooting occurred for the last three days. We’re not going anywhere,” Palmer said. “Crazy stuff happens everywhere all the time. We didn’t think it would happen to one of us. We’re not out there looking for that kind of stuff.”
Tuesday, Santa Cruz police detectives set out to re-interview Reimer’s friends in hopes the teens can help identify the people who opened fire in the small neighborhood park.
Since Saturday, patrol officers have been doing extra patrols in the area where Reimer was killed while detectives conduct probation searches on known gang members and collaborate with other gang investigators in the county, according to the Police Department.
No suspects have been named and no arrests made late Tuesday. Also, the murder weapon has not been recovered, police said.
Analicia Cube, co-founder of the community group Take Back Santa Cruz, said people need to start paying attention to crime issues and call police when they see suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.
“This community I feel is at a crossroads,” Cube said.
Friday, Take Back Santa Cruz will hold a positive loitering event at Grandview Park from 7-8 p.m.

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