Hundreds of people, many clutching lit candles, gathered in Civic Center Plaza Wednesday night to remember Rodney Frazier Jr., the Richmond High junior who was fatally shot in a hail of gunfire last week in front of his family’s North Richmond home.
The 16-year-old junior, described as “the perfect kid” who was a leader on his high school basketball team, was shot Friday night as he rode his dirt bike in the 300 block of Market Street.
Frazier was not in a gang, according to family and authorities. His teammates and coaches say he often inspired others to stay out of trouble through his work ethic on the basketball court and in the classroom.
Teammate and friend Marquette Davenport called Frazier a “huge influence to me and our team” before announcing that the Richmond High basketball program was dedicating the upcoming season to “the kid that never gave up.”
An equally emotional Rob Collins, Frazier’s coach at Richmond High, recalled Frazier as a fifth grader showing up to open gym and promptly diving for two loose balls — a brand of hustle Collins said he can’t get many of his older players to mimic.
Frazier told him right then, “I think you are going to be a special player one day.”
Collins said he was heartbroken to hear some of his players between ages 10 and 12 say they witnessed Frazier breathing his last breath Friday.
No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting. As many as 20 shots were fired at Frazier and his home, and Frazier suffered a fatal bullet wound to the chest, the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff reported Wednesday.
“Frazier was not involved in any gangs and was apparently in the wrong place at the wrong time,” according to the sheriff’s office. “Detectives are comparing evidence and information with their counterparts in Richmond, where a shooting occurred later that evening.”
Collins took issue with depicting Frazier’s death as a “wrong place and wrong time” crime.
“He was in the right place: at home,” Collins said angrily.
Frazier was one of nine people to be victims of gun violence in both Richmond and North Richmond during a five-day period.
Frazier’s death has stunned the communities of Richmond, North Richmond and beyond. Along with his teammates, members of regional teams planned the Wednesday vigil. De La Salle basketball coach Frank Allocco called on Frazier’s death to be a “catalyst for change” in the community.
Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said the tragedy has inspired city leaders to redouble “efforts to go down to zero homicides.” Violent crime, including homicides, have been on the decline in Richmond, partly credited to the community policing efforts installed by Police Chief Chris Magnus. There have been 13 homicides in the city this year, a far cry from the 46 in 2009.
Magnus called for city leaders to continue to fund programs that have contributed to a decline in crime. The city, while grappling with a deficit, has considered cuts to all departments, including police.
“We need to be moved to action,” the chief said, adding that crime is far from unavoidable in Richmond. “Violent crime is an outcome. An outcome that all of you can influence.”
Collins said the change must “start today” and urged the community to come forward to police and help them solve crimes so that such tragedies don’t continue.
“I am done. Finished. Through with senseless acts of violence,” Collins said.