The day after Ignacio Francis Jr., also known as Greg or ‘lil G’, was gunned down while standing with a group in the 1800 block of Fairview Street, his friends paid their respects at the site of his death.
A group of about 20 people, mostly in their early 20s, gathered Friday afternoon at the intersection of Fairview and Harper to light candles, make wax initials on the sidewalk, and write lil G’s name on a pole to convey how sad they felt that the 19-year-old Berkeley man was killed.
“He was a good friend, he was always there for us,” said Greg Symons Jr., 24, who knew Francis for about a year. “He was a good person. He was not a street person.”
Other friends of Francis’ also said that he had not been mixed up in gang behavior, but was an innocent who was shot on the street.
“The dude didn’t do anything,” said a 20-year-old man who didn’t want his name used but who attended Berkeley Technology Academy with Francis. He said Berkeleyside could refer to him as Wallace. “Violence is everywhere. A bullet has no name on it. I have had too many people killed.”
Francis was standing on the corner with a group of people around 7:30 p.m. on Thursday Sept. 22 when someone walked up to the group, according to Officer Byron White, a spokesman for the Berkeley Police Department. There was some sort of verbal dispute and one of the young men started shooting. Francis was hit and declared dead upon arriving at Highland Hospital, said White.
The shooting was not random, meaning the victim and killer knew one another, said White. He said they could have been friends or merely casual acquaintances.
The killing was the second homicide of 2016. The first happened on Aug. 18 when Alex Goodwin Jr., 22, was shot at 11:58 p.m. near Mabel and Burnett streets. He died early the next day at Highland. No suspects have been arrested in connection with his death.
Since then two gangs in Berkeley have been shooting at one another, according to police. Police have also said that some of the recent shootings may have been in retaliation for the Goodwin homicide, but that investigators are still working on figuring out all the elements.
On Wednesday, a 16-year old was shot in Berkeley near Sacramento and Russell streets around 5:40 p.m. and left at an area hospital. On Sept. 16, a 17-year old was shot in the face after the car he was riding in and another car exchanged gunfire down a six-block stretch of Ninth Street. That 17-year-old had also been shot in February while sitting in a car on Parker Street with two other friends, who were also shot. They all survived.
“I am scared,” said Wallace, when asked by Berkeleyside if he was concerned for his safety since he was a young African-American man. Wallace said his mother expressed concern that he was going to hang out on the corner because she feared there could be more shooting.
Berkeley police have stepped up patrols in West and South Berkeley in response to the shootings.
Francis graduated from Berkeley Tech in 2015 and had just gotten a job working in construction in San Francisco, said Symons. He was a good-looking man who had plenty of girlfriends but no-one in particular, he said.
Francis’ sister was among those gathered on the corner, but she declined to speak to Berkeleyside.
Anyone with information about Thursday’s shooting death is asked to call homicide investigators at 510-981 5741 or the 24-hour non-emergency number at 510-981 5900. People wishing to remain anonymous can call Bay Area Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).
Berkeley police step up patrols after recent shootings (09.23.16)
Update: Person dies after South Berkeley shooting (09.22.16)
Police respond to gunfire calls; teenage boy struck (09.21.16)
2 feuding groups go on shooting spree through West Berkeley (09.20.16)
Juvenile shot in the face in West Berkeley (09.16.16)
Police hunt for man who fired gun during argument (09.14.16)
Young man shot multiple times in San Pablo Park (05.17.16)
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