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Police arrest suspect in Hillsdale Mall shooting

David Lewis was shot at the Hillsdale Mall in San Mateo County on Wednesday, June 9, 2010. He founded a recovery center in East Palo Alto. The 54-year-old was a well-known and well-liked community leader.

December 21, 2010 12:44:52 AM PST
San Mateo police have arrested a suspect in the murder of a Peninsula community leader. Gregory Elarms is accused of killing 54-year-old David Lewis, who was gunned down in a parking area of the Hillsdale Mall on June 9.

Police say San Mateo's only murder of the year has been solved. The arrest comes as a relief to friends and family of the victim.

Lewis was a beloved figure in East Palo Alto. The former gang member had turned his life around after prison and had devoted his life to community outreach. Lewis had founded the group Free At Last, an organization that helps others with substance abuse problems.

Police had suspected the June 9 shooting was a targeted attack but initially found few leads. Although reluctant to reveal details regarding the case, investigators say that changed this past weekend when a break in the case came during an interview with the suspect, 58-year-old Gregory Elarms.

Elarms and Lewis knew each other and Elarms told police he had information about Lewis' murder.

"Mr. Elarms had contact with us that he had further information," San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer said. "And in fact it was through digging and really, interviews and investigation over a very hurried, harried weekend that we were able to connect the dots to the fact that in fact Mr. Elarms not only had information, but he was the one who did it."

"I was worried that it was going to be a cold case," Lewis' widow Margaret Lewis said. "I had sent a packet to America's Most Wanted and I was in communication with the public relations officer here and they were in contact with America's Most Wanted and they were going to feature David. Six months is a long time but I kept the faith."

Because Lewis was so well liked and well known in the community, police delayed announcing the arrest until Elarms could be put into protective custody.

A motive for the murder is still unknown.


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