Pressure still on police despite arrest in Safeway homicide

August 23, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Despite a quick arrest in a recent grocery store killing, the pressure is growing on San Jose police to do something about a sudden rise in violence.

San Jose police arrested 27-year-old Michael Howard at his home. He's accused of homicide in the death of Juan Munoz on Tuesday at the Safeway grocery on Story Road.

Paramedics first found Munoz outside the store and realized that he was actually the victim of a crime.

"He was suffering from at least one stab wound. At that point they called for the police department," said Jose Garcia of the San Jose Police Department.

Munoz was the 31st person killed in San Jose in 2012. In a year that has seen four more murders in the city since this point last year, an arrest in this case may ease some criticism hurled at the police chief recently by State Assembly Member Nora Campos.

This week Campos penned a letter calling on the California Highway Patrol to step in and help the San Jose police -- a department she calls overstretched.

But San Jose cops say CHP officers have different law enforcement roles than city police, and any help would have to be tightly coordinated.

"They have been used successfully in other jurisdictions to assist in investigating primarily traffic related incidents so that the local police department can redeploy those resources that they have to criminal investigations," said Garcia.

Plus, it's not clear if the city of San Jose would have to reimburse the state for CHP backup.

"I have nothing against the police department. They're doing a great job. Unfortunately they're just being spread a little too thin," said Joseph Sanchez. He works with City Council Member Xavier Campos, who is the brother of Nora Campos.

Dealing with the violence is more than just getting more officers on patrol, says Father Jon Pedigo, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

"It's more than just putting police officers in schools. It's more than putting them on street corners. It's about getting us to know a stable group of officers that we have a relationship with," he said.

The victim's family released a short statement Thursday, thanking the community for the outpouring of support. They offered a few details about Munoz, who they said was a studious young man who was pursuing his accounting degree.

UPDATE:

An 18-year-old was shot on South King Road and Burdette Drive in San Jose at 11 p.m. Thursday.


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