The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Student Rico Ridgeway remembers his cousin, Roman Gonzalez

24-year-old Rico Ridgeway was one of the three victims in the Sept. 3 shooting on at City College. Ridgeway was treated on scene,and later booked on an unrelated violation-of-parole warrant.

City College student Rico Ridgeway, 24, the cousin of Roman Gonzalez, the 25-year-old student shot and killed on campus Sept. 3, is a free man — The Sacramento Bee reported Ridgeway was released from jail last Thursday, after being arrested just after midnight, Sept. 4, for a parole violation. It is unclear whether Ridgeway still faces charges.

Before his release, Ridgeway was using his time behind bars to reflect on the situation at hand. While at the Sacramento County Jail, he talked to two reporters from the Express Sept. 9.

Ridgeway walked surefooted up the stairs from his cellblock and into the visitors’ area where incarcerated people talk with visitors via telephone. His lean, lanky frame slid comfortably into the booth as if it was his office. He sat down with a smile on his face, emanating an unexpected warmth. He propped the phone against his left ear, holding the receiver with his left hand, lightly gripping its cord with his right hand.

“I’m doing well,” Ridgeway said in a quiet but confident tone, adding that he’d received letters from people across the country. “I have so much support in here.” Tattooed on his right wrist are the words Galations 5:1, referring to the Bible verse: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Farther down his right arm the word “Royalty” could be seen, and engraved on his left wrist were the names of his two sisters, Britney and Bianca.

Ridgeway’s caramel skin paled beneath the fluorescent lights, a contrast to the orange jumpsuit he wore and the teal bars behind him.

When asked how his family was doing, he said they were “stronger than I could have ever imagined.” He also spoke about waiting for the arrival of his first daughter, due in November. It was clear that family was his top priority, talking about them as he gave a boyish grin.

It was less than a week since Ridgeway’s cousin was killed, shot in a fight that started on campus on East Road, between the operations building and the softball field. He said his cousin was “his brother and his best friend.” He also said his cousin had a “natural thirst, a natural curiosity.”

“If someone told him two plus two equal four, he’d say, ‘Who says two plus two equals four?’ ” Ridgeway said. “There wasn’t anything that man didn’t want to know.”

Witness accounts confirmed by police said that Ridgeway used a knife during the fight leading up to deadly shooting. Ridgeway was also hurt, grazed by a bullet the day his cousin died in his arms.

But when asked if he would have done anything differently that day, he had three words: “Not a thing.”

Rico Ridgeway’s father, Rick Ridgeway, 54, spoke on campus last Thursday at City College’s town hall meeting to proclaim his son’s innocence before Rico Ridgeway’s release.

“I felt I had to come out to the school to give the students and faculty the other side and the truth of what was going on,” said Rick Ridgeway. “I felt my son’s character was totally assassinated.”

Rick Ridgeway said he knew his son was innocent all along.
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“It didn’t make any sense to me,” said Rick Ridgeway. “My son, I’ve taught him to use his hands since he was 3 years old…Why did he have a knife? He knew that was a violation. He doesn’t carry a knife. None of it made sense to me.”

Rick Ridgeway said he felt it was his responsibility to himself, his son and family to speak about the good his son has done, which he said the media had ignored in its reporting.

“They didn’t say how he had just got a job and he was going back to school,” said Rick Ridgeway. “They didn’t say how his parole officer was trying to get him an early discharge, said he was doing a good job and to keep it up.”

Although Rico Ridgeway held no regrets, he declined to discuss specific details of the ongoing investigation into his cousin’s death. He did speak of his time at City College with Gonzalez before the Sept. 3 altercation.

“We were taking a Mexican-American history class,” said Rico Ridgeway. “I don’t remember the teacher’s name, but I liked him. I remember thinking I could really learn something from this guy.

Rico Ridgeway said he would walk with Gonzalez after class to the Kentucky Fried Chicken across the street, and they would alternate in treating each other to lunch. Although they didn’t resemble the typical college students, said Rico Ridgeway, both he and Gonzalez enjoyed the positivity on campus.

“Some places would rather see you jump through hoops than see you succeed,” said Rico Ridgeway. “Sac City wasn’t like that.”

When comparing himself and his cousin to other students on campus, Rico Ridgeway spoke of themselves as outsiders.

“We knew we were different,” said Rico Ridgeway. “We weren’t like those everyday students with the book bags and headphones in their ears. We still knew how to have fun.”

When asked if he felt safe on campus, Rico Ridgeway responded with an emphatic nod.

“I don’t want students to be scared because of this,” said Rico Ridgeway. “Change the way you look at things. Don’t give in to fear, despair and hatred.”

Writing and reporting done by Editor in Chief Jonathan Taraya and News Editor Vienna J. Montague.

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