A night of amateur boxing in Sacramento billed as an anti-gun violence event turned deadly over the weekend after at least one suspect in the crowd opened fire before he was shot and killed by police.
The “Gunz Down Gloves Up” initiative, put together by local activist Jacques Houston, was designed to offer youth an alternative to picking up a gun and settling beefs, but instead it became a focal point for the very violence Houston is trying to stop.
Officers were initially called out to the warehouse around 6:30 p.m. on reports of reckless driving on the 1600 block of Juliesse Avenue in the Cannon Industrial Park, not far from Del Paso Boulevard and the Hagginwood neighborhood.
Houston said the officers approached their group — upwards of 300 people — and asked if they were involved in a sideshow. They weren’t, Houston said, but a patrol sergeant stayed nearby anyway.
“It made me feel safe that nobody can drive by and shoot at these 300, 400 people in here,” Houston said. “They didn’t bug us.”
Around 8 p.m., the mood changed. According to police, the crowd of people attending the boxing event started running out of the warehouse and the patrol sergeant was told there was a gunman inside.
“It was just chaos,” Houston said.
The patrol sergeant ran towards the sound of gunfire and engaged the suspect, fatally shooting the man seconds later.
The organizer says he actually confronted the suspect before the shooting began because the man was intoxicated. Houston says he escorted the suspect out of the warehouse where the event was taking place, and didn’t hear the gunshots a short time later.
Houston didn’t hold anything against the sergeant who opened fire, but did admit that things could have gone differently.
“I feel responsible because I didn’t handle it better. I should have went out there and talked to him because this is my event. I escorted him out but I didn’t go out there and talk to him,” he said. “The family, I send all my condolences out … I don’t have nothing bad to say about what they (the police) did.”
I don’t think Jacques Houston should hold himself to blame for the shooting. Ultimately it was the suspect himself who decided to turn an anti-gun violence event into a potential shooting gallery, not Houston.
The shooting does, however, demonstrate the difficulties that come with trying to quell street violence without involving law enforcement. Good deeds alone aren’t enough to stop every individual with evil intent or a lack of concern about the consequences of their deadly actions.
With homicides up 40% in Sacramento this year, and non-fatal shootings on the rise as well, the most important thing that activists like Jacques Houston could do at the moment would be to encourage witnesses to come forward and cooperate with police in order to put murder suspects behind bars and on trial. If he and others truly want to end the violence in Sacramento, then they should be working to ensure that there are consequences for the individuals responsible.