Instead of opening Tuesday night’s City Council meeting with public comment, Davis addressed the topic of violent crimes and let residents know that city leaders are listening to their concerns. Although Davis asked that the meeting be scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 21, it was decided that the city’s Friday furlough and the Presidents’ Day holiday Monday would have provided too brief an interval to prepare. City Manager Jim Jakel said the meeting would be held in late March.
Residents have expressed concern about public safety in the wake of five shootings over the course of a week. “If we don’t take action now, we’re going to see these types of things repeatedly,” Davis said. “We’ve got to do something. Enough is enough, and I think that everyone would agree with that.”
The meeting would delve into topics such as Neighborhood Watch and what city services residents would be willing to cut back on in order to increase spending on police.
On Friday, Feb. 10 at 8:43 p.m., a 56-year-old man was gunned down on the 2200 block of Spanos Street and later died from his injuries. At about 3:45 p.m. the next day, police reported a shooting near the corner of Spanos and Sycamore Drive, but no one was harmed. Roughly four hours later, a man was shot in the chest on the 2200 block of L Street.
On Saturday, Feb. 11 at 9:14 p.m., a 26-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman were shot at the Women’s Club Hall at 509 G St. when an altercation escalated. The next day at 2:06 a.m., police responded to the report of a shooting at Kelly’s Club on 408 O St., where one man was injured.
Acting Lt. Diane Aguinaga said Wednesday that, other than the fatality on Feb. 10, the victims of that weekend’s shootings will recover. She added that no arrests have been made yet, and there appears to be no link between any of the crimes, though some are suspected to be gang-related.
On Monday, Feb. 13, a homeowner shot and killed an armed potential burglar who broke into his house on the 4800 block of Wexler Peak Way.
Antioch was also shaken up last month by a shooting at a Sweet 16 birthday party on usually peaceful Wilmont Court. Six people were injured.
City Councilman Gary Agopian said it would be beneficial for all parties to look into the possibility of a monthly town hall meeting in which residents could air their concerns.
Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando hopes the meeting will be constructive and not devolve into a gripe session about crime. He understands that both sides are tired of the status quo. “I believe that the citizens of Antioch are concerned and want change,” he said.
Cantando on Tuesday gave a presentation to the council about his department’s performance in 2011. He reported that violent crime dipped 5.3 percent, but property crime rose 25.1 percent. Currently, Antioch can afford only 94 officers; the department is authorized for 126. The police department is taking applications to hire two officers to replace cops who recently departed.
Members of the community activism group Take Back Antioch have been clamoring for a response from city officials ever since the birthday party incident. The group’s founder, Brittney Gougeon, was excited that the council showed initiative in scheduling a town hall meeting, but felt that delaying it until March could hurt the effort.
Gougeon is working with the city to find some way to hold the meeting on Tuesday. “If they do continue to delay it, it could be more harmful than good at this point,” she said. “Our response from the community has been substantial. I feel that it would again be detrimental to let down the citizens of Antioch in this manner by saying it’s an emergency, but we can wait six weeks.”