RICHMOND (KPIX 5) — Heartbroken relatives were trying come to grips with the terrible loss of their family member Wednesday in a senseless shooting in front of their Richmond home less than 24 hours earlier.
Richmond police said 56-year-old Miguel Ramirez was struck by a stray bullet from gunfire three blocks away from where he was found by his brother on the 1600 block of Chanslor Avenue early Tuesday evening.
Ramirez, who was a custodian at the building where KPIX 5, KCBS Radio and other radios stations are located, was walking outside his home to get his mail Tuesday when he was fatally struck by the bullet.
His younger brother Jesus Ramirez was the last to see him alive.
“He came from work and said, ‘I’ll be back. I’m going to the store.” But before he got in his car, he came here to get his mail,” Jesus told KPIX 5, gesturing to the metal gate outside the home. “When he was coming out, he was closing the door and that’s when he got shot and he fell right here.”
Jesus said he heard approximately 20 gunshots in the area and hesitated for about a minute, waiting for the gunfire to die down before investigating.
“When I heard the shots, I came out. I heard the shots over there and started walking over there,” Jesus remembered. “But the neighbor said, “‘No it’s here! Your brother is dead! He got shot!’ So that’s when I found him here, laying down.”
Jesus tried to help his brother, talking to him as he held him.
“I turned him around and he had a gunshot in the back of his head. I put my jacket in the back trying to hold the blood from coming out,” Jesus said. “I was talking to him. I was saying to be strong, because he was very strong. I told him, “Be strong! Please don’t leave us. Don’t go! Stay with us!'”
On Wednesday, family gathered outside Miguel’s home just feet away from where he died.
Memo Ramirez, another younger brother, drove from Modesto after getting the terrible news.
“There are no words to describe him. He had a huge heart,” Memo said. “He was an amazing person. Amazing. Wrong place, wrong time. This shouldn’t be happening.”
Miguel came from a large family and was one of nine siblings. Memo spoke about how he looked up to his big brother.
“I couldn’t believe it. He was never into any negative stuff. He was just a hard-working man,” he said. “He was my role model since I was a little kid. I’m gonna miss him.”
Miguel’s wife, too emotional to speak, lit candles outside their home to remember a man so full of life.
Miguel’s daughter, Erica Ramirez, told KPIX 5 she wants police to find whoever is responsible for her father’s death.
“I want justice for my dad. He was an innocent person,” said a tearful Erica. “He didn’t need to go yet.”
She also said she was relieved she visited her father over the weekend and told him she loved him.
“I talked to him on Saturday. I told him I loved him and he said, ‘I love you back, too.’ He said, ‘Watch over my grandkids. My little girls.’ But then he was like, ‘No, never mind, they’re not little anymore. They’re big now. Just take care of them,'” Erica remembered. “That’s all he told me. So at least I have that in me. I talked him and was able to say to him what I felt. It’s good that I was able to say something to him, not knowing that this was going to happen.”
In 2018, there were 15 homicides in Richmond. This year, there have already been 7. One Richmond activist said the recent shootings are symptomatic of a larger problem.
Antwon Cloird works with a number of community organizations, including Rich Minds. He is also a member of Richmond’s Rapid Response team, which comforts relatives immediately after a shooting and connects them with resources. Cloird said Richmond’s gun violence problem can be directly traced to city finances.
He said Richmond’s “Operation: Ceasefire” program, which is supposed to help criminals turn their lives around, is underfunded. Richmond schools have also suffered budget cuts and he said the city is unable to properly treat victims of substance abuse.
“We’ve had a lot of funding cuts, city, state and just basically grant cuts in our community,” Cloird said. “We do not have a detox or drug program.”
Richmond mayor Tom Butt said he has a goal for the city.
“It would be to get homicides down to zero. Every time we start a new year, I start hoping, maybe this is the year. But obviously this is not the year,” Butt said.
The Ramirez family has set up a Go Fund Me page to raise funds to cover funeral costs for any parties interested in making a donation.