Investigation ongoing in student death

Photo by Tony Kukulich

A memorial for 16-year-old shooting victim Jonathan Parker grew in the parking lot of Deer Valley High School in Antioch, Monday, Feb. 3. Jonathan, a Deer Valley student, was shot during an altercation after a basketball game at the school Friday, Jan. 31, and died later that weekend.

As family and friends mourn the death of Jonathan Parker, questions remain as to how the 16-year-old Deer Valley High School (DVHS) student could have been gunned down on school grounds following a basketball game, Friday, Jan. 31.

A press release issued by the Antioch Police Department (APD) stated that officers responded to the report of a shooting at 8:44 p.m. and found Parker in the school parking lot suffering from three gunshot wounds. He was transported by ambulance to the trauma center at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek in critical condition but later died as a result of his wounds.

“We, along with the rest of AUSD (Antioch Unified School District), denounce this senseless violence and call on the community to come together to address such vicious brutality,” wrote AUSD Superintendent Stephanie Anello and DVHS Principal Bukky Oyebade in a joint press release. “Our children must be taught that solving disagreements with violence is not the answer and that there are other ways to resolve our differences that do not result in the unjust and unnecessary killing of our youth. Finally, we ask that everyone in this community and nearby communities model the love and peace they hope to create.”

A large memorial to Parker grew in the DVHS parking lot over the weekend. Grief counselors were at the school Monday to help students and staff, and there was a conspicuous police presence consisting of several police cruisers patrolling the school grounds.

As the APD investigation into the shooting progresses, police have not named a suspect or suspects in the case.

“I’ve got detectives working hard on this case,” Antioch Chief of Police Tammany Brooks said. “I feel fairly confident that, hopefully within the next few days, we should have an update for the media regarding where we stand on the case ... I will say that we actually collected quite a bit of video. Our guys are working to analyze all of that. We’ll utilize that to try to identify the persons responsible and hopefully follow up and try to get the people in custody is the ultimate goal. We will continue working in that direction.”

Jonathan was at Deer Valley to attend a boys’ varsity basketball game against the crosstown rival Antioch Panthers. The APD said that immediately after the game, a large group of individuals began fighting in the school’s parking lot. One of those involved produced a firearm and fired, striking Jonathan three times. The APD has not stated how many shots were fired nor the type of weapon they believe was used in the killing. No other injuries were reported.

Anello told The Press in an email that, in anticipation of an intense rivalry between an undefeated Deer Valley team and a struggling Antioch team, extra security was present at the game.

“We continue to be focused on the well-being of students following the tragic, senseless and heinous shooting of a Deer Valley student by what appears to be a non-DVHS student this past Friday night,” Anello said. “That being said, many are asking if security was present at the game. The simple answer is yes. In fact, the game was staffed with twice as many security personnel than other games due to the fact that we anticipated a larger crowd as the DVHS boys’ basketball team is undefeated and Antioch High is a sister school. These staff members were escorting the majority of the crowd out of the game as it was ending. The shooting appears to have occurred ahead of the crowd prior to security reaching that area.”

It is unclear at this time if any security personnel were posted in the parking lot.

Brooks confirmed that the APD does not provide security for AUSD events, and no officers were present at the school prior to the shooting. Additionally, the department does not have school resource officers (SRO) assigned to the district.

“We haven’t been in any formal discussions with the school district regarding any sort of security from police officers at any events,” Brooks said. “We don’t have school resource officers currently. The Antioch Police Department does not have any school resource officers at any of the schools in the City of Antioch. It’s a program that was cut probably 10 years ago. It was a result of budget cuts from the recession that just completely decimated the number of sworn police officers that we had.”

As of press time, information regarding funeral services for Jonathan was not available.

“(Jonathan) was an extraordinary young man full of life,” wrote Aurora Solorio on a GoFundMe page established to help Parker’s family. “He was truly an old soul. He didn’t ask for much or need much. He was always thankful and so happy with life. He didn’t understand why people were so cruel, but he truly tried to make up for it.”

Parker’s GoFundMe page can be found at the following link: http://bit.ly/thepress_jonathanparker.

Antioch Mayor Sean Wright did not respond to several requests for comment on the shooting.

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