A New Year's Eve shooting left two people dead and one injured in Sacramento's Old Sacramento district 48 hours ago. The fireworks display shows were supposed to be a family event. But because bars and restaurants have drunks and arguments between total strangers break out among people that had no previous contacts with one another, the midnight fireworks were canceled, but the 9:00 p.m. show went on as shots broke out around 9:40 p.m.
And although 50,000 people were expected to show up, and merchants estimated that 20,000 revelers would still be there after midnight, the area was all but cleared out of people by police after the 9:38 - 9:40 p.m. shooting inside a sports bar and eatery in old Sacramento. The gunshots sent families with kids scrambling to hide in nearby candy and jewelry stores open for the evening. Not only did the vendors lose thousands of dollars in New Years Eve business, but families now question whether any type of holiday revelry open to families with kids after sundown is safe.
The idea it was an isolated incident hangs in the balance, since there seems to be increasing news reports of fatal violence close to a celebratory event, especially around holiday times or weekends. Check out the January 2, 2013 Sacramento Bee article by Ryan Lillis, Denny Walsh and Bill Lindelof, "Killings raise questions about future Old Sac New Year's Eve events." Was it an isolated incident, or is it no longer safe to take kids to events after dark either on holidays or weekends?
The crowds looked for open stores to hide in on the floor
For example, senseless shootings between strangers who have never met before, arguments that break out in bars or parking lots happen as if they're ignited by a spark of pooled anger by the various shooters. Perhaps it was a isolated incident in old Sacramento after 12 years of similar festivities on New Year's Eve that draws families with children. But then again, in surrounding areas, it's not isolated to have shootings break out between strangers around similar festivities.
In September 2010, a young man was caught in gang crossfire and killed on J Street a few hours after the monthly Second Saturday art walk had concluded in midtown, according to the Sacramento Bee article. You can read the crime reports and news about the Thursday night market on K Street that fell victim to violence. That event had steadily grown in popularity, drawing more than 25,000 people to downtown. Then, in 1995, a musician was shot and killed during a robbery as he was packing up for the night after the market.
Crime issues cancel other festivities and markets open in Sacramento after dark
Three years later, with crime issues persisting, the market was canceled for good. The Times Square imitation where a ball drops down at midnight in Sacramento was canceled after the 2008 problem of 2,500 people expected, but 25,000 people showing up. So many people in one area is overwhelming to security.
Fights did break out back then, and the city decided not to have a similar event on K street downtown in Sacramento. So families went to the usual "old Sacramento" fireworks show at 9:00 p.m. with their kids. The midnight fireworks show was canceled. The best place to take your children on New Year's Eve is to a place that doesn't mix alcohol with festive events, if a family event is to take place.
Sacramento needs more family-only events on holidays not close to bars
Sacramento needs more Fairytale town-type entertainment for kids and their parents for New Years Eve, or more events where people go to the zoo or other places where you are not a few feet away from bars where arguments break out. Family entertainment and bars don't mix. Then again, anyone can come to old Sacramento and eat in the restaurants and drink, but in these times, wherever alcohol is served, even responsibly, there's bound to be some individual who brings a gun.
Perhaps the solution is to check people for knives and guns on their person before they enter a family-oriented event after dark such as a fireworks presentation close to a whole group of restaurants and bars serving alcohol. The question is not whether alcohol is the problem, because people can come to any event and take drugs other than alcohol and be just as quick to pull the trigger in their brain on anger or push someone to the ground and have that person fatally strike his or her head on concrete or the point of a table. Violence can break out in the blink of an eye because festivities draw people after dark to revelry.
The question is why does deadly violence near a celebratory event increasingly break out in Sacramento?
This time, two people were killed and three others injured late Monday, December 31, 2012 on New Year's Eve, during a shootout at a bar two blocks from where thousands of families had watched the 9 p.m. annual fireworks display over Old Sacramento.
The midnight show was canceled. According to the Sacramento Bee article, the alleged gunman, identified by Sacramento police a 22-year old and named in the article, "Killings raise questions about future Old Sac New Year's Eve events," was caught just minutes after the wild gun battle broke out at 9:40 p.m. inside a boisterous establishment at the corner of K and Second streets, also named in the Sacramento Bee article.
Before the shooting, surrounding merchants said Old Sacramento had been considered safe for families with kids
As the shots rang out, New Year's revelers dived to the ground or sought shelter in whatever spaces they could find – a candy shop, a jewelry store, a tiny arcade with an old-style shooting range. More people poured into a candy shop nearby on Second Street. You have news of 80 people suddenly crowding into the candy store, huddling on the floor as the owner locked the door.
If you went to the area the next morning, what you'd see would be workers scrubbing the blood off the boardwalks. The fireworks were detonated early in the morning, waking up nearby residents around 8:00 a.m. in the morning on New Year's Day. If you think the shooting is an isolated incident, you may be deceiving yourself, even if the area has not had any shootings before. You have runaway teens hanging out in "Old Sacramento" and homeless people, usually young runaways all over the area in the daytime on weekdays.
The annual fireworks show is uncertain, but chances are it will continue
The annual fireworks show is up in the air right now, but chances are nothing will change since the same fireworks show has been done successfully for the past 12 years with no fatalities at least in this century before the incident. What people may not realize is that times are changing. And the chances of repeats rise statistically since anyone with mental problems or anger issues can go to any bar at night, anywhere in Sacramento or if under 21, walk the streets. The shooter in this case is a 22-year old man.
Police reported to the Sacramento Bee that the shooting started when an argument erupted inside the eatery and bar full of other diners between one young man age 22, and a couple in their thirties. Readers have no clue as yet what began the argument or what happened for a man to escalate his anger to the point of shooting and killing two people, the husband of the couple and an employee of the restaurant/bar. The employee tried to break up the argument, but instead it escalated. Should the employee instead have first called the police instead of intervening.
People need to know what to do when a stranger picks an argument in a crowded bar
When a stranger intervenes in a fight between two strangers who never met before, the usual outcome is escalation of anger and potential violence. Most people who pick arguments with strangers in a bar or restaurant react with more anger or violence when a stranger tries to break up the fight or argument about to escalate to a physical fight. The victims were a 30-year old wife and her 35-year old husband.
The husband died as did the employee. The wife was shot, but survived. Was the outcome worth picking an argument in the first place. If someone starts an argument with you you don't want to escalate it to the point of getting shot by even opening your mouth. Is the best response to remain silent? To call the police first?
To ask whether there's anything you can do to help? To apologize? The answer requires a reply from a mental health professional. Many people who want to avoid escalation remain silent or call the police out of the view of the person whose anger is escalating. In the New Year's Eve case, the argument grew into a fight and an employee of the establishment tried to intervene.
How do you keep an argument between strangers from escalating to a fatality?
The police told the media that they didn't think these people knew one another...that it was an argument in the bar that escalated. You have a security guard quickly arriving on the scene and shooting the shooter, who survived and was arrested as he began to run away from the scene. Then the police arrived and found the security guard and the shooter outside the bar, which was packed with people. The shooter, named in the Sacramento Bee article is in custody at a local hospital.
On one hand, you have almost 100 city police officers and a dozen private security officers in Old Sacramento patrolling the 9 p.m. fireworks display. But with all the police, including some on horseback, nobody could prevent a fatal shooting, even though the police responded to the shooting within seconds, witnesses told the media. If the shooting didn't happen, there would have been at least 20,000 people in the area at midnight, even though news reports said up to 50,000 people were expected to be in the small area for the restaurants, merchants, and fireworks. Should families bring kids to areas of the city that mix bars, restaurants, and saloon's with fireworks?
Chances are there will be another New Year's Eve fireworks celebration in Old Sacramento. People will shrug it off to taking a risk with your kids to see the fireworks. Perhaps the city needs a special place just for families with children to take them to after dark for fireworks on New Year's Eve, similar to what you have on the Fourth of July each year, such as a special park that's closed to people with alcohol or firearms on their person. But that may not solve the problem, since anyone can come to any part of the city high on drugs and kill anyone or shoot into a group of families. It's all about risk versus reward. Very little probably will change.
Then again, families with children and teenagers really need a safe place to go during the holidays. But what do you do when there are fights breaking out even in the malls? Is there something about sundown that brings out chaos and mayhem in some people who want to rain on another person's parade?
Interestingly, most violence involving actual arguments between strangers who have never met and who are in public places breaks out after sundown rather than at noon. Risk is here in Sacramento. The reward is revelry on holidays and bright lights in the night versus watching TV at home.
And even there, you have reports of domestic violence in the home on holidays as well on police statistics. Where do you go for safety on holidays? And what do families fear most as they try to grab the brass ring of life? People in midtown Sacramento still remember the news about the musician shot in a parking lot as he was about to go home after a Second Saturday evening event. For more information see, An Open Discussion: Second Saturday Shooting | Midtown Monthly. As more shootings occur, more events in Sacramento get cancelled. The issue is where do people go for the holidays near their homes as crime or violence increases at various events that previously had a long history of safety? Many people will still attend these events, leaving it up to risk.