Around 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, a 20-year-old Marine was gunned down in San Bernardino, California.
Douglas Rivas-Rauda was shot and killed outside Flesh Showgirls, which bills itself as “THE BIGGEST club in the Inland Empire.” The underage soldier had been partying there with other Marines stationed at a nearby base in Twentynine Palms. No arrests have been made.
Less than a day later, Jose Enrique Ortiz, 19, was shot and killed in the city’s Arrowview section. He was found lying in the street in a residential neighborhood. Witnesses saw a dark-colored vehicle flee the area. “He shot him once, noticed he didn’t kill him, so he came back and made sure he killed him,” a witness told a local news outlet.
The gun murders of Ortiz and Rivas-Rauda, the 14th and 15th in San Bernardino this year, marked a grim milestone: Just 109 days into 2016, more people in the California industrial city had been shot and killed than died in last December’s massacre at Inland Regional Center.
The benchmark did not stand for long: On Wednesday, April 20, two more people were fatally shot in San Bernardino when a shooter in a car opened fire on their vehicle.
Mass shootings dominate the public perception of American gun violence yet they account for less than 2 percent of the nation’s annual gun deaths. Even in places like San Bernardino, the site of a horrific shooting spree, mundane gun violence takes a far greater toll. The 14 lives lost in that four-minute rampage accounted for just a third of the city’s total shooting deaths in 2015.
Of 19 intentional killings this year, 15 were carried out with a gun, according to the San Bernardino Police Department. Eleven of this year’s gunshot victims — including the most recent, Jose Ortiz — had histories of arrest. As elsewhere in the country, a disproportionately high number of the dead were black males. And, as elsewhere, some victims seemed to have the misfortune of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The deaths — four in January, two in February, seven in March, two in April — won’t dominate the headlines the way the rampage last December did. CNN won’t break into its coverage to announce the deaths. President Obama isn’t likely to take one of his now-signature walks to a podium to mourn the lost lives. Millions of anguished television viewers won’t collectively wonder, “why?”
But the shootings ripple out into communities, touching some lives and crushing others. The victims tallied by The Trace range in age from 12 to 61.
The shooting death of the youngest victim, 12-year-old Jason Spears, attracted the most local attention. Spears was shot and killed while walking to a Circle K convenience store less than two blocks from his home on March 13. His 14-year-old cousin was wounded. Witnesses said a black SUV fled the area following the gunfire.
Another San Bernardino victim was killed during a robbery. On January 29, two men confronted Mitesh Patel, the 36-year-old owner of a drive-through dairy, at his convenience store. After demanding money from the cash register, one of them men blasted Patel in the chest with a shotgun. The suspects were arrested; both have criminal records and gang ties. Patel, who emigrated from India in 2003, had a wife and 3-year-old daughter, Vrisha, according to a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for her college education.
On January 2, police found John Black, 37, in a residential neighborhood, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Black, who had gang ties, according to a local news report, died at a hospital. His murder remains unsolved. The next day, 21-year-old Rayshawn Sandy showed up at a hospital with gunshot wounds, and later died. The suspected gunman turned himself in a week later.
San Bernardino police say they don’t know who killed 49-year-old Rocky Holmes, found in his car with a gunshot wound following a drug deal on January 28. According to an online memorial, he was known as “Cowboy.” A 10-minute YouTube photo collage shows him holding a toddler as a young man; laboring over a gingerbread house in his later years; helping a little girl doggy paddle across a pool; staring up at the camera wearing a Motorhead T-shirt; beaming while surrounded by family members; delicately holding a snake; and shivering after a dip in the ocean, his chest and back covered in faded black ink.
Gustavo Zarate, Jr., a student at San Bernardino Valley College, got into an argument on February 7 as he was leaving a birthday party. The 20-year-old was fatally shot. (“Gustavo was … filled with energy to succeed in life,” the vice president of the student government posted on Facebook after his death).
On February 29, the oldest victim, 61-year-old Michael Anthony Wright was found with multiple gunshot wounds in the driveway of his home on the city’s west side.
Gilbert Jaramillo, 34, was riding his bike on March 3 when a car pulled up and someone inside opened fire, killing him. Jaramillo, who went by the nickname “Scoobie” on his Facebook profile page, was a Dallas Cowboys fan who posed proudly with his two daughters and a son, Gilbert Jr. In one post, he shared a photo of his infant son’s footprints. “HE GOT UR TOES,” the boy’s mother commented.
On March 9, 27-year-old Kevin Jones was found in front of an apartment complex with several gunshot wounds to the chest. According to his Facebook profile, he worked at a distribution center that serves Trader Joe’s grocery stores. According to a GoFundMe page launched to collect burial funds, he was the father of two children, one of whom preceded him in death. “Kev had touched the hearts of a lot of people including myself,” someone named Jessica Roberts posted.
On March 10, Reginald Bland, 24, was found shot to death in a residential street. A victim of the same shooting, 20-year-old Sirvanti Campbell showed up at a hospital with gunshot wounds two days later. Bland and Campbell had criminal records and gang ties, according to news reports.
Duane Lucas, 26, was killed in a gang-related shooting on March 28. His killer has not been found, police say. His wife still posts about him on her Facebook page every day. On April 14, she captioned a photo of him holding his 1-year-old daughter, Alani, “When she was 1st born he was CRAZY about his 1st lil girl. She was crazy bout her daddy 2.” On April 17, she lamented that his killer should have “picked up a damn bible instead of a gun.”
On March 6, Cecelia Sanchez, 30, was found dead of gunshot wounds on a sidewalk in a residential neighborhood. According to her Facebook profile, she was a cashier who studied at San Bernardino Valley College. Two years before her death, in 2014, she posted a photo on Facebook that read, “Cherish every moment and every person in your life, because you never know when it will be the last time you see someone.”
She captioned it: “I wish I listened to that a long time ago.”
[The 15 victims of gun violence in San Bernardino so far in 2016. From top left corner, reading left to right: John Black, Douglas Rivas-Rauda, Gilbert Jaramillo, Sirvanti Campbell, Cecelia Sanchez, Gustavo Zarate, Rayshawn Sandy, Kevin Jones, Jose Enrique Ortiz, Reginald Bland, Jason Spears, Duane Lucas, Michael Anthony Wright, Rocky Holmes, Mitesh Patel. Photo collage by Joel Arbaje]