In a community meeting Sunday organized by city officials to address recent gun violence in South and West Berkeley, relatives and friends of a slain young rap musician killed outside his home in August repeatedly asked police to help them get justice for Alex Goodwin Jr.
Goodwin’s mother, sister and grandmother were among numerous speakers who said police must do more with the investigation, and that they want to help authorities despite concerns about retribution or perceptions of snitching.
Hundreds of people attended the meeting with questions and thoughts about recent and longstanding public safety problems. A Berkeleyside story on the overall event is forthcoming.
Goodwin was 22 when he was fatally shot after he walked outside the family home at Mabel and Burnett streets just south of San Pablo Park, where Sunday’s meeting was held. He attended Cragmont Elementary School, King Middle School and Berkeley High.
A woman called police around the time of the gunshots to report that her brother had left their home but never came back inside. That woman was Aneka Patterson.
“I know some people who are tired of being shot at, tired of being harassed by these other people and are willing to talk to you guys,” Patterson told police Sunday. “I’m pretty sure you guys know the people who are basically terrorizing South Berkeley and it seems like it’s just nothing being done.”
Patterson indicated that there was little mystery as to who was responsible for her brother’s death. And she urged police to try harder to build relationships with the community, and to reassure people who might share information that steps would be taken for their safety.
“A lot of young people don’t trust you guys,” she said. “I’m trying to get into the head of a lot of them because I do know a lot of them.”
Goodwin’s mother, Kameka Goodwin, said she wants to be in regular contact with police so she can be sure to know what’s going on with the investigation. She also brought up the $15,000 reward police have offered in connection with the case. (Details appear at the bottom of this story.) She said she hopes officers could go door to door to spread the word about the reward, which she fears may not have been promoted enough.
Goodwin’s grandmother, Sarah Patterson, described the mural she had painted on the front of her home two months back in honor of her grandson. The mural shows her grandson’s face in the clouds. He’s wearing a Cal hat and the message #LongLive Aye-Gee appears beside him.
Patterson said candles burn daily for her grandson, and that friends often come by to bring flowers and other memorial items.
“We’re going to let these people know that his name will go on. And, when they do come by, I just hope they look and see him,” she told the crowd. “And I hope it just drives them to come to the Berkeley police office and say: ‘I did it.'”
She said she would not let the tragedy, or fear of more violence, drive her family from their longtime home.
“We’re not going to be afraid because I think that’s what they want us to be,” she said. “Some people say, ‘Are you going to still stay there, after your grandson was killed?’ Yes. I’m going to be there. I’ve been there over 40 years and I will be there until I’m done.”
Another longtime Berkeley resident, Norman Franklin Sr., a close family friend, described Goodwin as someone who was devoted and goodhearted.
“That young man, he was doing everything a young man was supposed to do,” Franklin said. “He helped his mother. He helped his grandmother.… and he did not deserve what happened to him.”
Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood promised Goodwin’s family he would sit down with them in private to discuss the case.
He said officers continue to take the investigation seriously and that, speaking hypothetically, even if they believed they knew the identity of the shooter, they would not make any arrests without enough evidence to bring charges.
And he said information from friends and family often plays a crucial role in making headway. But it’s not always forthcoming, which can be a frustration.
Greenwood said homicide detectives work long hours and follow every lead to try to find the person responsible for the crimes they investigate and bring that person to justice.
“Our department has not, nor will it, make arrests in a haphazard fashion,” Greenwood said. “When we make an arrest in a homicide, it is going to be when we think we have that person to rights.”
The city of Berkeley is offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for the death of Alex Goodwin Jr. Detectives have asked for the community’s help with the investigation. Police ask anyone with information about the case to call the BPD Homicide Detail at 510-981-5741.
Videos of Goodwin’s sister and grandmother appear below.