Homeless man shot dead near downtown Santa Rosa; second homeless shooting in a week

A gunshot victim who police described as a homeless man died behind a business on Santa Rosa’s College Avenue, where he was found early Friday morning by a security guard, according to police. It was the second shooting of a homeless person near Santa Rosa’s downtown core in the span of a week, police said.

The 29-year-old man, who was otherwise not identified, was found at about 12:22 a.m. in the vicinity of Memorial Hospice on College Avenue near Mendocino Avenue, according to the Santa Rosa Police Department and witnesses in the area. Santa Rosa Police Lt. Ryan Corcoran said the man was homeless.

Medical staff arrived and declared the man dead, prompting Santa Rosa officers to start a homicide investigation.

Corcoran declined to share details about what investigators suspect led up to the shooting, why the victim was in the area or how many times he had been shot and where he had been struck

No one had been arrested by Friday afternoon, he said.

“We’re still working on a timeline, but we did not have a report of gunshots,” Corcoran said.

Still, Meredith Gilardoni, a resident who lives behind the Memorial Hospice office building on College Avenue, said what sounded like a gunshot roused her from her sleep sometime before 12:30 a.m. Friday.

She decided not to call police and went back to sleep, though was woken up again at about 3 a.m. when an officer came to her door asking if her home’s security video captured any activity from the office’s parking lot, Gilardoni said, adding that the camera’s frame did not extend that far.

A neighbor who did not want to be named for fear of retaliation said their home security camera captured a car leaving the back parking lot of the hospice and turning on Carrillo Street toward Mendocino Avenue at 12:07 a.m.

The surveillance footage captured what sounded like two gunshots seconds later. The 30-second timer on the camera timed out soon after the second shot, the neighbor said, adding that they slept through the noise.

A bouquet of flowers sat near a pathway leading to a back door of the Memorial Hospice’s building Friday afternoon. Neighbors and a hospice supervisor said police had cordoned off the area earlier that day.

Staff did not know the victim, though they honored him by ringing a bell Friday afternoon after police left, said Chris Falley, the director of hospice. They laid flowers at the site, too.

“We’re used to death but not like this,” Falley said.

The building serves as an office space for supervisors, chaplains and hospice workers who provide in-home care for patients. The hospice contracts with a security company that sends guards to scan the area four times a night, Falley said.

Santa Rosa investigators were still trying to determine whether Friday’s shooting could be linked to a Sept. 11 shooting along the Prince Memorial Greenway near downtown Santa Rosa, Corcoran said.

That incident was reported to officers at about 6:15 p.m. near Laurel and Orange streets and involved a 52-year-old homeless man who was found in an alleyway with a gunshot wound to his head, police said.

A silver four-door car was seen speeding away from the area after the shooting, though police later said they could not confirm whether the car was involved in the shooting.

The victim remained hospitalized with life-threatening injuries as of Friday night, Corcoran said.

No arrests in that case had been made, Corcoran said Friday.

There was nothing to suggest either of the shootings involving the homeless men were linked to a third shooting that killed a Santa Rosa man and injured his friend Monday night, Corcoran said.

Santa Rosa resident Jose Becerra, 24, was being driven by a friend on Fulton Road between Guerneville Road and West College Avenue when a hail of bullets from a nearby vehicle struck them, according to police. The car sped away before officers arrived.

No arrests were reported in that case as of Friday afternoon.

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or On Twitter @nashellytweets.

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