At 10:34 am on Aug. 11 Stockton police received a 911 call that a fight had broken out at the Golden 1 Credit Union at Sherwood Mall on Pacific Avenue.
No officers were dispatched.
Fourteen minutes later Tyrique Harris was dead.
Stockton police arrived at the scene at 10:52 a.m
Several factors likely led the police department not to send an officer when the first call came in, sources said.
Those factors included a call at 10:38 a.m., police saying the fight was over, the volume of high-priority calls received that morning and an understaffed police department, sources said.
ICYMI: Police chief addresses recent spate of homicides in Stockton, including midday credit union shooting
Harris, 23, died of 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’ death, according to police.
On September 1, Laonard Allen Alexander was arrested in San Pablo and charged with murder in connection with the shooting.
“The family is truly torn over the incident, but we are thankful that the guy has been caught,” Harris’ family said in a statement.
I am informed: Man arrested in fatal shooting outside Golden 1 Credit Union
The first call
Three 911 calls were made from Golden 1 to Stockton police about the altercation that ended with Harris being shot, said Officer Joseph Silva, a spokesman for the Stockton Police Department.
The first call came in at 10:34 am. to report that an argument had broken out between a man police believe was Alexander and Harris, according to Silva.
“It was two people, the shooter and then the person who died,” said one witness, who did not want to be named for security reasons.
The alleged assailant appeared to be trying to provoke Harris into a fight, the witness said. “The person who was shot was trying to defuse the situation. He wasn’t fighting back, he was taking all the punches and kicks that were thrown at him.”
No officers were dispatched
No officers were dispatched to investigate the fight because officers on shift in the area that morning were responding to higher priority calls, according to Silva.
In another call that came in at 10:33 a.m., police were told a man carrying a large knife was spotted on West Hammer Lane, Silva said.
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Meanwhile, when the fight was reported at Golden 1, the caller said no weapon was in sight, 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.
“Information that you receive that indicates … the highest potential for bodily harm, up to and including death of the citizen, is the highest priority.”
“If everyone is tied up, there’s a priority system where they can cut someone off on one call and put them on another.”
No officers were dispatched to the credit union until after the shooting, according to Silva.
“If the officers had arrived when it was still a struggle, of course they could have intervened,” Hislop said.
At the same time, “it’s hard to say whether they could have gotten there faster based on the conditions on that particular day,” he said. “Everything in law enforcement is unpredictable.”
“You deserve a timely response”
An officer may have been on hand to respond to the fight before it escalated into a homicide if the police department had been better staffed, the Stockton Police Association said.
The “egregious daytime homicide at a local bank may have been prevented with increased staffing,” said a Stockton Police Officers Association post the day after the shooting.
As of Sept. 2, the Stockton Police Department was 100 officers short of the 485 it would have at full capacity, according to Silva.
“If you have more staff, you obviously have more resources available and the likelihood that someone will respond sooner increases exponentially,” according to April Heinze, director of the National Emergency Number Association and a former 911 dispatcher.
“If you are a victim of a crime and you call the police, you deserve a police response and you deserve a prompt police response,” said Jeremiah Skaggs, Vice President of the Stockton Police Officers Association.
At 10:38 a.m., police received the second call saying Harris and the alleged assailant had stopped fighting, Silva said. But at 10:48 a.m., police received the third and final call saying there had been a shooting.
“Nobody really knew it was gunshots. I thought (the shooter) was hitting the wall, other people thought it was a basic weapon from the construction,” said the witness, who was inside the credit union. Five to seven gunshots were heard, the witness said.
The first officer was dispatched to the credit union at 10:52 a.m., according to Silva. Harris died of gunshot wounds outside the credit union, police said.
Silva said that to avoid compromising the criminal case against Alexander, police would not provide details about what happened between the second and third calls.
“We still don’t know anything about what happened,” the Harris family said in the statement. The family plans to begin organizing against gun violence in Stockton in response to Harris’ death, they said.
“We want to be the ones to start here in Stockton. We can’t save everyone’s town, but we’re going to start with ours.”
Let’s dig deeper: A Lincoln High School student pulled a gun during a confrontation. How did it pass the security checks?
Breaking news reporter Angelaydet Rocha contributed to this report.
Reporter Aaron Leathley covers personal safety and law enforcement. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @LeathleyAaron. Support local news by subscribing to The Stockton Record at recordnet.com/subscribenow.
This article originally appeared in The Record: No officers dispatched to Golden 1 until after fatal shooting