At 10:34 am on Aug. 11 Stockton police received a 911 call that a fight had broken out at Golden 1 Credit Union at the Sherwood Mall on Pacific Avenue.
No officers were dispatched.
Fourteen minutes later Tyrique Harris was dead.
Stockton police arrived on scene at 10:52 am
Several factors likely led the police department not to dispatch an officer when that first call came in, sources said.
Those factors included a call at 10:38 am police said indicated the fight had ended, the volume of high-priority calls received that morning, and an understaffed police department, sources said.
ICYMI:Police chief addresses spate of recent Stockton homicides, including midday credit union shooting
Harris, 23, died from multiple gunshot wounds outside the credit union around noon that day. It was the 32nd homicide in Stockton this year, a number that has risen to 39 in the weeks since Harris’s death, according to police.
On Sept. 1, Laonard Allen Alexander was arrested in San Pablo and charged with murder in connection with the shooting.
“The family is really torn about the incident, but we are grateful that the guy has been apprehended,” Harris’ family said in a statement.
Catch up:Man arrested in fatal shooting outside Golden 1 Credit Union
The first call
Three 911 calls were placed from Golden 1 to Stockton police about the altercation that ended with Harris’ shooting, Officer Joseph Silva, a Stockton Police Department spokesman, said.
The first call came in at 10:34 am to report that a fight had broken out between a man police believe was Alexander and Harris, according to Silva.
“It was two guys, the shooter and then the person who died,” a witness who did not want to be identified because of safety concerns, said.
The alleged shooter appeared to be trying to provoke Harris into a fight, the witness said. “The person who was shot was like, trying to defuse the situation. He wasn’t arguing back, he was taking all the hits and the blows that he was giving him.”
No officers dispatched
No officers were sent to investigate the fight because the officers on shift in the district that morning were responding to higher-priority calls, according to Silva.
In another call that came in at 10:33 am, the police were told that a man carrying a large knife was spotted on West Hammer Lane, Silva said.
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Meanwhile, when the fight at Golden 1 was reported, the caller said no weapons were visible, according to Silva.
Police departments prioritize calls based on the risk of immediate harm, according to Jeff Hislop, a former San Joaquin County sheriff’s lieutenant and instructor at San Joaquin Delta College’s police academy.
“The information that you get that indicates … the highest potential for physical harm, up to and including death of the citizen or the potential for that, is the highest priority.”
“If everybody’s tied up, there’s a priority system where they can interrupt somebody at one call and send them to another.”
No officers were sent to the credit union until after the shooting occurred, according to Silva.
“If officers had arrived when it was still a fight, of course they could have interceded,” Hislop said.
At the same time, “it’s hard to say if they could’ve gotten there any quicker based on what the circumstances were that particular day,” he said. “Everything in law enforcement is unpredictable.”
‘You deserve a timely response’
An officer may have been available to respond to the fight before it escalated into a homicide if the police department was better-staffed, the Stockton police union said.
The “blatant daytime homicide at a local bank may possibly have been prevented with an increase in staffing,” a post by the Stockton Police Officers Association the day after the shooting stated.
As of Sept. 2, the Stockton Police Department was 100 officers below the 485 it would have at full capacity, according to Silva.
“If you have more staffing, obviously you typically have more available resources, and the likelihood of somebody responding sooner goes up exponentially,” according to April Heinze, a director at the National Emergency Number Association and a former 911 dispatcher.
“If you are the victim of a crime and you call the police, you deserve to have a police response, and you deserve to have a timely police response,” Jeremiah Skaggs, Vice President of the Stockton Police Officers Association, said.
At 10:38 am, police received the second call saying Harris and the alleged shooter had stopped fighting, Silva said. But at 10:48 am, police received the third and final call saying there had been a shooting.
“Nobody really knew it was gunshots. I thought (the shooter) was banging on the wall, the other people thought it was a staple gun from the construction,” the witness, who was inside the credit union, said. Five to seven shots were fired, the witness said.
The first officer was dispatched to the credit union at 10:52, according to Silva. Harris died due to gunshot wounds outside the credit union, according to police.
Silva said to avoid compromising the criminal case against Alexander, police would not to provide details about what happened between the second and third calls.
“We don’t know anything still about what happened,” the Harris family said in the statement. The family plans to start organizing against gun violence in Stockton in response to Harris’ death, they said.
“We want to be the ones to get it started here in Stockton. We can’t save everybody’s city, but we’re going to start with our own.”
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Breaking news reporter Angelaydet Rocha contributed to this report.
Record reporter Aaron Leathley covers personal safety and law enforcement. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @LeathleyAaron. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at recordnet.com/subscribenow.