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By Gina Channell Wilcox

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About this blog: I've been involved in news media for more than 30 years in a number of roles in the newsroom ? from editorial assistant to "cops" reporter to executive editor. Currently I am the president and publisher of Embarcadero Media Group'...  (More)

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Gun violence shatters sense of safety

Uploaded: Aug 4, 2022
The sense of safety is as fragile as glass.

I realized this when I made a trip to Stoneridge Mall recently, by myself, at dusk. As I parked, I thought of all of the violent incidents in the Tri-Valley over the past few weeks. As I grabbed the door handle, I remembered the armed robbery in the parking lot of a Danville grocery store the previous week when a man was approached by teenagers pointing guns at him when he exited his car.

That July 1 armed robbery, which happened in broad daylight in a community named the safest in California just last year, made me want to lock my doors and not leave the house. Not only did this happen in the parking lot of a store I frequent, it was the fourth violent crime involving gun-wielding thugs in the Tri-Valley within the previous two-week period. It was preceded by a car break-in with shots fired in Pleasanton on June 28, which was preceded by an armed robbery attempt with gunfire exchanged in Danville on June 21, which was preceded by an armed carjacking in Livermore on June 20.

Two weeks went by and I started feeling a bit more secure, but then the crack in my fragile sense of safety splintered further when three people were shot at Granada Bowl in Livermore.

Police reported Antonio Vargas, 28, was playing pool in the bar at the bowling alley on July 16 when there was a verbal altercation that turned into a physical altercation that ended with Roger Garcia Aleman pulling a gun and shooting three people, killing Vargas.

At 27, Aleman has a long and violent record. He has been in and out of jail since he was 18 – or at least on the record because juvenile records are kept from the public. After looking at his run-ins with the law since he was 18, my bet is that the violent, criminal behavior started well before he became a legal adult.

At age 18 in September 2013, Aleman was convicted of assault with a firearm and sentenced to four years in state prison. However, he obviously didn’t serve even half of his sentence because in July 2015 he had his parole revoked and was sentenced to 145 days in county lockup.

He had his parole revoked again in May 2016 and sentenced to 90 days in jail, and again in November of that year for evading a police officer in Pleasanton and spent 18 days in Santa Rita. Because evading a police officer is a misdemeanor, Aleman was put on court probation for three years.

In November 2017 Aleman was arrested and charged with, among other offenses, possession of a firearm by a felon, carrying a loaded firearm in a city, carrying a concealed firearm within a vehicle and possession of methamphetamine.

In 2018, Aleman pleaded no contest to one charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm and was sentenced to three years in San Quentin, with 182 days for credit for time served. The balance of the complaint was dismissed.

In September 2020, he was arrested for public intoxication, in May 2021 for possession of a firearm by an addict, and in December 2021 for possession of a controlled narcotic and marijuana.

Aleman pulled the trigger that ended Antonio Vargas’ life, but who is ultimately responsible for Vargas’ death? Is it the DA’s office because they compromised too much and too often by reducing and dismissing charges? Is it the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Board of Parole, because they open the prisons’ revolving doors to so many before they serve even half of their sentences?

California's gun laws are among the most restrictive, if not the strictest, in the United States. In the Golden State, as in many other states, felons are prohibited from possessing firearms. Yet Aleman was indeed in possession of a concealed firearm on July 16, 2022.

Criminals don’t go through legal means to get guns. They go through individual sales, in which sellers who aren’t licensed gun dealers aren’t required to conduct a background check. They have a “straw buyer” purchase them. They steal them. They build them.

According to the California Department of Justice’s 2021 Armed and Prohibited Persons System annual report, as of Jan. 1, 2022, 24,509 individuals who are on the prohibited list are known to possess firearms. Of that number, 54% of prohibited individuals in the APPS database were prohibited due to a felony conviction.

The department’s recommendations to get firearms from prohibited people boils down to money – money to enforce a currently unfunded mandate that county courts confiscate or transfer firearms from felons, money to offer competitive pay for its officers, and money to modernize databases.

I want to again be able to leave the house without fear of being robbed at gunpoint or shot.

We need our elected representatives like Gov. Gavin Newsom and Congressman Eric Swalwell to stop posturing for their party and voters and focus on funding mandates that will get guns out of the hands of violent felons.

It’s too late for Antonio Vargas and his family, but maybe we can stop this from happening again.
Democracy.
What is it worth to you?

Comments

Posted by Jake Waters, a resident of Birdland,
on Aug 4, 2022 at 10:37 am

Jake Waters is a registered user.

Well said Gina.


Posted by MichaelB, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Aug 4, 2022 at 11:04 am

MichaelB is a registered user.

"We need our elected representatives like Gov. Gavin Newsom and Congressman Eric Swalwell to stop posturing for their party and voters and focus on funding mandates that will get guns out of the hands of violent felons."


We need to vote them and the rest of the "progressives" out of office. They are not going to change. They will continue to posture by harassing/intimidating/disarming law abiding citizens with guns vs. stopping the criminals with them.


Posted by Michael Austin , a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Aug 4, 2022 at 5:29 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Continue your state of alertness because it is not going to get any better, it may get worse.

Pamela price running for Alameda County district attorney and is well funded by George Soros.

Pamela Price has zero experience as a prosecutor. Sha has never prosecuted a case what soever.

Pamela Price has stated that she will model the Alameda County district attorney office along the same lines and model as George Gascon in LA and Chesa Boudin did in San Francisco.


Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Danville,
on Aug 4, 2022 at 5:40 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

California needs to go back to being tough on crime. I agree that we need to get guns out of the hands of violent felons, but is it possible? Voting the progressives out is a start.


Posted by MichaelB, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Aug 4, 2022 at 6:55 pm

MichaelB is a registered user.

"Criminals don't go through legal means to get guns. They go through individual sales, in which sellers who aren't licensed gun dealers aren't required to conduct a background check. They have a “straw buyer" purchase them. They steal them. They build them."


None of this seems to matter to our so-called "leaders" who claim to want "common sense" regulations. Apparently, it is much more "sophisticated" to have Rebecca Bauer-Kahan complain about firearms advertisements directed at children (who are not legally able to possess nor purchase guns) and argue that wills/trusts not going through background checks for gun transfers are somehow the "source" of firearms related to street violence.


Posted by Art Miller, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 5, 2022 at 6:38 am

Art Miller is a registered user.

It should be very obvious to anyone with any common sense this trend will not end until we elect leaders who follow the current laws and appoint people who do the same. No more excuses claiming money is the answer. We pay higher taxes than most states who have far fewer violent criminals per capita than CA. It is not a PARTY issue as much as a POLICY matter!!


Posted by Grady Dennison, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Aug 5, 2022 at 7:24 am

Grady Dennison is a registered user.

Why not simply post security checkpoints at all public places of gathering, similar to entering a county court?

Though it may slow down the flow of foot traffic, better safe than sorry.

Public schools in some of the rougher communities have security guards and metal detectors that one must pass through prior to entering the facilities.

Apply this concept to everywhere and indoor gun violence will be seriously curtailed.


Posted by Malcolm Hex, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 5, 2022 at 10:13 am

Malcolm Hex is a registered user.

I agree with every comment made here. I also agreed with what Gina said until she mentioned... Ugh... Newsom and Swalwell.

Newsom is doing everything he can to take guns out of the hands of law abiding citizen. He has repeatedly said he intendeds to continue going after gun manufacturers and the gun rights movement. In fact, Newsom was so frustrated by the Supreme Court decision allowing Texas residents to sue abortion providers, that he called for legislation allowing private citizens to enforce his own state's gun laws - hence, sue gun manufacturers. However, unlike abortion, the right to keep and bear arms is a constitutionally protected right.

Newsom is going to face misery in court as gun manufactures, and private citizens line up to take him on. Eventually, Newsom's nonsense will end up in the SC. Yeah, good luck with all that, Gov'nah.

Lastly, don't expect much of the governor or his sidekick. Those two don't give a damn about anything but themselves.










.


Posted by Germaine Johnson, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Aug 5, 2022 at 10:23 am

Germaine Johnson is a registered user.

Governor Newsom is a presidential aspirant.

After he is easily re-elected this fall, the CA gubenatorial term limit kicks in and the next logical step is for Newsom to pursue the presidency.

If Biden opts to run for a second term, he should drop Kamala Harris and choose Gavin Newsom as his VP even though this move might alienate some African American voters.

A 2024 Trump/Cruz ticket vs Biden/Newsom will be an election for the ages.


Posted by Gina M Channell, Publisher, a resident of Danville,
on Aug 5, 2022 at 10:38 am

Gina M Channell, Publisher is a registered user.

@ Malcolm and Germaine -- That's exactly what I meant by posturing for the party and voters. (I think Swalwell has presidential aspirations too.) Part of the posturing for Newsom is his gun control laws that obviously aren't working with the felons and the snarky "if Texas does this with abortion providers, we'll do this with ghost gun creators" farce. It was all an act to get attention. Newsom's running campaign ads in Florida and Texas. Swalwell is too caught up in the Jan 6 hearings to worry about his CA district. I wish these two would focus on what's important in California and the Tri-Valley. Like I said, I would like to go out of the house without worrying I'll be robbed at gunpoint or shot.


Posted by D, a resident of Danville,
on Aug 5, 2022 at 11:28 am

D is a registered user.

Gina: Your post is by far the most meaningful and insightful comment I have ever read in this site. Public safety is the most important thing affecting all of us, whether we are white, black, male or female, Republican or Democrat, gay or straight, religious or atheist. Until we improve public safety, no other issue really matters.Our politicians need to stop spending time and money debating all those other issues, and simply united focus on improving public safety.

Four suggestions on improving public safety:
-Return to having the DA's office being run by law and order people, whose focus is solely on crime victims, and not being run by criminal rights individuals. Our criminal justice system is suppose to have DA's who fight for crime victims and seek to put criminals away, and the public defenders office who fight for criminals. DA Boudin, Becton, and now potential DA Pamela Price have no business being part of the DA's office, and their policies are a threat to public safety.
-Institutionalize mentally ill homeless, like we previously did before the 1980's. Most of the police calls now involve dealing with these people, who if institutionalized would free up the police to deal with career criminals. It is more humane for them to be in institutions than living on the streets.
-Stop rewarding ambulance chasing attorneys who constantly prevent the police from doing their jobs. When a mentally ill homeless person pulls a knife on a cop, cities need to stop paying millions of dollars to the lawyers, as it sends a message to the cops to do nothing, especially when Progressive DA's also threaten to put the cops in prison. Reward the police for doing their job, not deter them.
-Encourage more families to go to church/place of worship. With declining religious attendance, has come increasing crime and violence. Places of worship remind people of the golden rule, and consequences after death for crime and bad acts.

Great post Gina-thanks!!


Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Danville,
on Aug 6, 2022 at 3:50 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Another Rolex and wallet robbery today in Danville. Stay safe everyone.


Posted by Kevin, a resident of Castlewood,
on Aug 6, 2022 at 6:11 pm

Kevin is a registered user.

Here is a very good article in Wall Street Journal this weekend analyzing where illegal guns are coming from.

Web Link

Gun trafficking is surging across state lines. Criminal are buying guns in states that have loose gun laws and selling them in states like California with tight restrictions.

Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Virginia and Florida lead the nation as sources of illegal guns. Guess which states the illegal guns are going to - CA, IL, NY, NJ, CO.

How long can you put a criminal like Aleman in jail for and keep him there? Of course, now he will be in jail for the rest of his life but for his previous crimes? Is it the DA's fault that he was able to buy a gun illegally?

Gina, is it known where his gun came from?

You can easily get into a hyper partisan conversation about guns and law enforcement. “DAs are weak, they are George Soros DAs, etc." instead, take a look at the facts and root causes of violence. We can build and fill up many many more prisons the way conservative pro-gun politicians want to deal with this problem. It will never be solved that way.


Posted by D, a resident of Danville,
on Aug 6, 2022 at 7:01 pm

D is a registered user.

This afternoon, in broad day light, four out of town criminals with guns did armed robbery at the Livery in Danville. It is not a coincidence that since DA Becton went after the Danville police officer and the town paid an ambulance chaser lawyer in Oakland millions of dollars for his criminal clients that suddenly out of town criminals are now pouring into Danville and committing crimes. The word on the street is clear: come to Danville and commit crimes with no consequences as the DA has turned the safest town in Contra Costa into Richmond or Oakland. It is time to recall DA Becton.


Posted by D, a resident of Danville,
on Aug 6, 2022 at 7:03 pm

D is a registered user.

@Kevin- I have no problem with filling up prisons with criminals who have committed crimes. Keep them locked up and away from law abiding citizens.


Posted by Gina M Channell, Publisher, a resident of Danville,
on Aug 6, 2022 at 7:36 pm

Gina M Channell, Publisher is a registered user.

@Kevin - No, I don't know where Aleman got the gun that killed someone, nor do I care. I only care that he had it in his possession after a long record of gun possession and violence.

Nor do I care about which party anyone is from. I said nothing about political parties - you did.

How long would I lock up someone with a history of gun violence, including two stints in prison for gun-related offenses? I don't know -- maybe long enough to make prison a deterrent to such behavior, as opposed to a trading post and training ground for thugs who know if they're sentenced to four years they might be in for one.

I don't understand the mentality of people who equate everything to political parties. It just seems infantile and shows a lack of critical thinking skills. No one thing, person or system is to blame -- which is why I asked the rhetorical question of whether it's the DA, corrections department, etc., at fault. I didn't specifically call out the the straw buyers, the independent sellers, the people who make parts available online etc., etc., that I mentioned as part of the problem, but I hope astute readers took that for what I meant -- that there are no easy answers.

Unlike some, I believe that not everything revolves around politics and parties. Everyone, regardless of party, lifestyle, creed, gender or color deserves to feel safe. That shouldn't be too much to ask of our elected leaders.


Posted by Gina M Channell, Publisher, a resident of Danville,
on Aug 6, 2022 at 8:10 pm

Gina M Channell, Publisher is a registered user.

Per D's post... Danville PD is investigating an armed robbery at the Livery Shopping Center. Today. Broad daylight. Four suspects armed with handguns (and possibly an assault rifle) allegedly pistol-whipped a person and there was a shot fired, but nobody was hit. Thugs reportedly stole a watch and wallet from a victim.

Just gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling, doesn't it?

@Kevin, I don't think the police asked the person who was allegedly pistol-whipped which political party he or she identifies with.... Maybe if the culprits are caught we can ask them if they bought their guns from Republicans / Democrats / Conservatives / Liberals.

Yeah, it's as stupid as it sounds.


Posted by Kevin, a resident of Castlewood,
on Aug 6, 2022 at 8:16 pm

Kevin is a registered user.

Gina, D says

“ The word on the street is clear: come to Danville and commit crimes with no consequences as the DA has turned the safest town in Contra Costa into Richmond or Oakland. It is time to recall DA Becton."

Are you ok with his political spin? But you point out my flagging politics.I have been reading you and Tim Hunt long enough to know where you all come from. You are ok with comments from D and others like him. I don't believe you when you claim you don't care about party. You are the one who proudly published the news that Becton received funding from Soros.

You all should know that our country has people like me who also don't feel safe when we go out to movies or concerts or mall but we blame it on easy access to guns by criminals among other reasons including mental health. We are actually in the majority around here if you look at the election results.


Posted by Kevin, a resident of Castlewood,
on Aug 6, 2022 at 8:23 pm

Kevin is a registered user.

(REMOVED -- ATTACK ON ANOTHER COMMENTER AND USE OF FOUL LANGUAGE.)


Posted by Gina Channell, Publisher, a resident of Downtown,
on Aug 6, 2022 at 8:27 pm

Gina Channell, Publisher is a registered user.

I don't condone or condemn D's take on things. You asked me specifically if I knew where the gun came from after you referenced political parties and I responded to that.
And, yes, we accurately reported on funding from Soros to the Becton campaign, as we will track and report on large contributions from any organization / committee / contributor to a candidate, committee or measure for the general election. I'm already tracking three significant contributions...

Again, I don't care about political party.

And, please note, though, I did not mention politics or political parties in my column / blog, nor do I care. What do I care about? Electing people -- regardless of party, color, creed, gender, lifestyle, whatever, etc. -- who will stop this gun violence and take away the fear of being robbed at gunpoint or shot opening our front door.

You have to agree that what is happening is not good or right...


Posted by pleasantonweekly.com, a PleasantonWeekly.com blogger,
on Aug 6, 2022 at 8:29 pm

pleasantonweekly.com is a registered user.

We were having a conversation until Kevin choose to attack a commenter and use obscene language. Thank him as I lock this thread from further comment.


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