Murder Shocks Park West
When the average UC Irvine student decides to move to Irvine, they most likely do not consider the area to be particularly life-threatening. Unfortunately, a recent event in Irvine has shown that fatal violence can occur anywhere, even in one of the safest cities in America.
Brian Gray, a 36-year old man from Long Beach, was shot and killed on Sunday, Feb. 5 on Parkview Lane in the Park West apartment community. Park West is a site that houses families as well as scores of UCI students.
According to a report released by the Irvine Police Department, the authorities were notified about the shooting at 11:23 p.m., and found Gray on the sidewalk, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was then taken to Irvine Regional Hospital, where he died from his injuries.
The report, though brief, describes the two suspects as African-American males. One is specified as 6 feet tall and of heavy build, the other as 5-feet-8-inches and slimmer than the first. One of the men was in possession of the handgun responsible for Gray’s death.
The investigation is ongoing, led by lieutenants Jeff Love and Mike Hamel, which means that most of the information being collected is off limits to the general public. The lack of specifics in reported information hasn’t given any comfort to those who were in the Park West community on the night of the shooting.
Clare Bayens, a fourth-year dance major at UCI, remembers the confusion of the night.
‘I didn’t even know anything about it until around 1:30 at night’ Bayens said. ‘My roommate woke me up … and the police were shouting [something like] ‘Don’t go outside, we have dogs … we will catch you.”
To clear up their confusion, Bayens and her roommate called the local police station, which was unwilling to release information. ‘They told us an investigation was underway with dogs,’ Bayens said, ‘but that they couldn’t say anything else because it might hinder their investigation.’
Locked in their apartment, and unsure of what to do, Bayens and her roommate stayed up to see what would happen. ‘We were pretty scared,’ Bayens admitted. ‘We peered out the window, but couldn’t really see anything. … Later we heard the police and some dogs outside of our apartment.
‘Around two o’clock, we could hear traffic start up again,’ Bayens continued, ‘so we figured it was over and went to bed.’
In the days following the murder, the Park West housing office, the go-to for residents in need of information or assistance, was slow to respond. In fact, inquirers were told that the office had no information, but would contact residents when they did.
On Tuesday, Feb. 7, two days after the initial event, the housing office sent out a letter that replicated a police press release that had been published the previous day. According to employees in the office, no additional information was added.
Bayens was particularly struck by a note at the bottom of the letter. ‘They noted that Irvine is one of the safest cities in the United States,’ she said. ‘They always seem to put that at the end when something bad happens. I remember getting another letter like that earlier in the year.’
And she was not mistaken. The addition is a note prepared by the City of Irvine that promotes the area as ‘the nation’s largest master-planned urban community.’ It continues to promote the area, stating an ‘enviable quality of life’ in this ‘family-friendly city.’ The blurb is placed at the bottom of all press releases in blue font.
It’s true, in fact, that the FBI has confirmed Irvine’s status as one of the country’s safest cities. This is largely attributed to effective law enforcement techniques used by the Irvine PD.
Park West is is a 10-minute drive from the UCI campus and shuttles run between the Administration Building and the housing community every half-hour on school days.
Although it is impractical for students to avoid the Park West area- crime can occur anywhere-it is important to note that this is a community that is closely connected to the UCI student body. This incident might serve as an indication that attention to personal safety is just as important in Irvine, as it is anywhere else.
Anyone with information on this shooting is advised to contact Sgt. John Hare of the Irvine PD at (949) 724-7166.