RICHMOND -- In the latest in a series of brazen, daylight shootings to rock the city, a 19-year-old man was shot and killed at point-blank range in front of more than 20 people, including his father and brother, Tuesday as they attended a city-funded vocational course aimed at reducing violence.
About 25 enrollees in the RichmondBUILD construction course went out for a run about 11 a.m. in the 300 block of South 28th Street, said Ken Sayang, 33, a member of the class. A white SUV sped up and skidded to a stop next to the group, and a man got out of the vehicle and began shooting.
"We all scattered," Sayang said. "I couldn't believe what was happening."
The shooter seemed to home in on one victim, shooting him multiple times even after he was on the ground, Sayang said. Two other men were shot in the legs.
The slain man's father and brother were not injured, police said.
The victim was identified by the Contra Costa Coroner's Office as Richmond resident Dimarea Young. His Facebook page listed him as a 2011 El Cerrito High School graduate.
The spate of violence in recent days has public safety leaders and the community on edge, particularly in light of the steep decline in Richmond homicides in recent years.
Three shootings -- all in broad daylight -- have left six wounded and one dead in central and south Richmond neighborhoods since Saturday.
A 33-year-old Sacramento man remains in critical condition after being shot in the ankle, buttocks and chest on Sunday afternoon. The man was shot while standing in front of his grandmother's single-story home in the 100 block of South 20th Street about 1:30 p.m., police said.
Three other men were shot in front of Uncle Sam's Liquors at 3322 Cutting Blvd., at 6:10 p.m. Saturday, police said. No arrests have been made in any of the recent shootings.
"The brazenness of these shootings, and the sustained nature of the violence in recent days, is a cause for concern," said Felix Hunziker, chairman of the city's Police Commission. "Violence is escalating."
The latest violence also follows two high-profile shootings last month. On March 28, a daytime shooting strafed an apartment building, wounding a 1-year-old baby in the neck as the boy sat with his grandparents. On March 14, a 33-year-old man was shot and killed in front of dozens of passengers on the front steps of the Richmond BART station.
But despite the seemingly indiscriminate gunplay, the city's homicide numbers remain below average. Richmond has recorded four homicides so far this year, below the seven that were recorded by this date in 2012, a year that ended with 18 homicides, among the lowest totals in decades. While strained resources have hampered public safety in other Bay Area cities, Richmond has bulked up its police force from 150 sworn officers in 2006 to 190 today, implemented modern community-policing models and funded a novel violence-prevention office.
On Tuesday, Det. Nicole Abetkov said a stolen white SUV was recovered in the 3400 block of Ohio Avenue minutes after police found the three shooting victims at Virginia and 28th Street.
The slain man's body remained on the northwest corner of South 28th Street and Virginia Street for hours as detectives combed the scene.
Sal Vaca, director of the RichmondBUILD program, said the construction class was having its first meeting Tuesday.
"It was orientation day," Vaca said. "The students had made choices to better themselves."
Vaca said the deceased man had enrolled in the class with his father and brother.
"They were there when their son and brother was shot," Vaca said.
Vaca said RichmondBUILD has graduated more than 600 students in six years in vocational trades. Most of the students in the classes come from working-class Richmond neighborhoods and housing projects, he said.
"The program aims at reducing violence by building skills and employment," Vaca said. "We have operated for six years without incident until today."
Vaca said the RichmondBUILD site, occupied by seven staff and about 30 students daily, will be closed for the rest of the week. A grief counselor will work with staff and be on hand when students return next week, Vaca said.
Tensions remained high through the rest of the day, and less than three hours after the fatal shooting, gang unit officers patrolling near Chanslor Avenue and 20th Street fired a shot at a suspected gang member after he pointed a weapon at them, Abetkov said. An officer fired one shot at the man, but missed, then the officers took the man into custody about 1:44 p.m.
"We need more police or more cameras or more something," said 51-year-old Kyle Patton, a Richmond resident and bystander on the scene of Tuesday's shooting. "The streets are hot out here."