On the sixth anniversary of the shooting death of an aspiring police officer, the family of the victim gathered at the site of the shooting to ask for the public’s help in arresting and prosecuting the two suspects.
The police joined in the quest, offering a quarter million dollar reward for tips leading to the suspects’ arrest.
On Jan. 7, 2007 Alberto Casillas was shot and killed as he was driving his Silver GMC Yukon SUV near 13th and Folsom streets. Earlier that night, Casillas got into a confrontation with two suspects who brandished a firearm outside of the now-defunct Club Caliente in the SoMa District.
The two suspects were believed to have also frequented other nightclubs in the area before the incident, Jones said.
Before heading into the club with friends and family, Casillas had attended an orientation for the San Francisco Police Academy, followed by four hours of work as a security guard in Daly City, said Elsa Casillas, his mother.
“I called him my gentle giant because he was a tall strong big kid, but he was gentle,” she said of her 6-4, 275-pound son who was a defensive lineman at Balboa High School.
On Monday, the mother set a memorial that included dozens of pictures and mementos from her son at the site of where his SUV came to rest after he was shot.
“I am hoping to jar some memories of someone who might have some information,” she said.
The family and police host the conference yearly –at different settings– to keep the case alive. The city increased the reward from $10,000 to $250,000 last year because police believe more information about the incident is out there.
“We know there were plenty of people who saw what happened, that can tell us exactly what happened, why it happened, who did it, which way they went,” homicide investigator Kevin Johnson said. “Unfortunately we had minimal cooperation.”
A lack of witnesses coming forward has long been a source of frustration for SFPD and prosecutors in incident of violence in the Mission. Residents might be deterred by retaliation, a lack of empathy or unwillingness, Jones said. However that shouldn’t stop them from reporting what they know, he added.
“That’s all we ever asked of the public, that’s all mothers ever ask, is for the public to please give us a hand, help us find and answer,” he said. “We can’t perform magic tricks, we need proof and evidence.”
To keep the case fresh Casillas’ mother also goes to jails once a month to talk to inmates about the incident in hopes that someone will come forward. For now she said she will keep waiting until someone comes forward.
“You’d think it gets easier waiting year after year,” she said. “It doesn’t — it never goes away.”