Two years later; Campus shooting trial begins this month

Vanessa Nelson | Photo Editor | vanessanelsonexpress@gmail.comVanessa Nelson | Photo Editor | vanessanelsonexpress@gmail.com

Natasha Radisic
Staff Writer
natasha.radisic@gmail.com

 

Two years ago, City College campus was a place of tragedy. One student lost his life and two others were hospitalized after violence erupted between gang members.

On Sept. 3, 2015 at approximately 3:59 p.m., the campus was locked down after Roman Gonzalez, 25, was shot and killed on East Road near the softball field. Tevita Kaihea and Charlie Hola were later caught and arrested for murder, attempted murder, discharge of a firearm with bodily injury, participating in a street gang and vehicle theft, police said.

Now, the two suspects, both 21, face a Nov. 27 trial date in Sacramento Superior Court for crimes committed on campus in fall 2015. Hola was a former City College student.

Even though it’s been more than two years since the shooting, students still think about their safety.

“I think that the campus still has some vulnerabilities just because of the way it’s set up, being an open and public campus, so I feel like a crime is inevitable,” said Ceara Watrous, a photography major who was taking classes in fall 2015. “But as long as we have people monitoring activity, we should all be okay.”

Watrous believes students feel safer since the shooting. She said there are more staff patrolling the campus and people are more conscious about their surroundings.

Nick Domke, another student who was attending class at the time of the shooting, shared his experiences.

“I was taking one class in the afternoon, and I remember the empty campus,” said Domke, a recording arts major. “Two officers approached me and told me I need to leave immediately. They escorted me off the campus.”

Domke, like Watrous, says he understands restricting access on a public college is difficult.

“I think things like that could happen anywhere,” said Domke. “It’s a public campus, so it’s hard to maintain safety. I don’t know. I guess anyone can still commit a crime here, but I’m not concerned about my safety.”

Since the shooting and an independent safety investigation, the campus security system was changed, according to the City College Public Information Officer Kaitlyn MacGregor.

“Changes were made to improve the efficiency and speed with which a campuswide alert could be issued in the case of an emergency,” MacGregor said. “They include moving to the Rave alert system and changing who makes the initial alert to the college campus.”

Since the shooting death, the first to happen on the Los Rios campuses, all of the Los Rios Colleges decided to switch to the Rave alert system and change who sends out the alert to students. Rave messages are sent through email and text, using contact info the school has on record.

“In the case of an emergency, LRPD will initiate the first alert message because they are the first point of contact in a campus emergency,” said MacGregor.

Other emergency communication, including updates and follow ups, is done by the City College PIO, who works closely with LRPD.