Homicide in Canal Neighborhood Shakes SRHS Community

The Pickleweed Community Center in the Canal

The Pickleweed Community Center in the Canal

Lulu Gebbie, Contributor

On Monday December 3rd around 6 pm, Errol Friedman of San Anselmo was shot in his car near Pickleweed Park in San Rafael, close to the homes of many San Rafael High School students. A 21-year-old graduate of Drake High School, Friedman was enrolled at College of Marin and living in Sleepy Hollow. Friedman had been an active member of the Drake baseball team and volunteered as a coach for children’s sports in the county after graduating.     

Friends and family posted on Facebook after his death and shared their memories with each other. A GoFundMe was created to help the family pay for his funeral. The fundraising page describes Friedman as, “an amazing person whose life ended far too young. His loving heart, intelligence, sense of humor and kindness will live in the hearts of his family and friends forever.”

When police arrived on the scene on Monday evening, they found Friedman in a car with a gunshot. He “was confirmed deceased on the scene,” according to the San Rafael Police Department. Witnesses saw a man fleeing the scene directly after the gunshot was heard.

Sergeant Lisa Holton says, “The SRPD partnered with someone from the community center and provided English and Spanish press releases within 90 minutes of the incident.”

A senior living near Pickleweed Park, Weston Weisenberg, described what he saw on Monday night: “We looked outside and noticed about six cop cars at the end of the street, there was police tape everywhere and there were cops in the park with flashlights looking everywhere.”

Pickleweed Park is connected to the Albert J. Boro Community Center. The community center is a 24,000 square foot complex “for community meetings, events, after-school programs, literacy, technology, education, library, social and recreational activities and programs,” according to the City of San Rafael website. The center is a hub for community members and includes homework rooms for students after school. The park holds a playground frequently used by children in the Canal.

Yesenia Jimenez, a SRHS senior, lives across the street from the community center and recalled the seemingly “ordinary evening” of December 3rd. After hearing sirens, her father “looked out the window and saw the car with the body in it.”

Three days later, on December 6th, officers arrested a seventeen year old Fairfax resident and booked him into the Marin County Juvenile Detention Center. They arrested the minor for one count of murder.

Since the event, Yesenia explains that “it almost seems as if the city is trying to shy away and avoid” the shooting. She noted that the shooting happened “within feet of a park where children were playing and across the street from homes.” Since the shooting, no remedial efforts have been taken within the Pickleweed community. Many SRHS students grew up around this park and community center. Parents continue to send their children to the community center after school. Community members and students rely on the center to be a safe, friendly place for all ages and is open until 5 pm during the weekdays. The shooting happened only one hour after the community center closed.

Steve Mason, the supervisor of the community center, commented on the San Rafael Police Department’s help with and after the incident. He explained that the community was concerned after the event, but the community center was able to continue regularly the next day. Mason was informed by the San Rafael Police Department that the homicide was an “isolated event” and the Canal and community center were not in any danger.

The minor arrested is the same age as many SRHS seniors and attended Davidson Middle School with the majority of the class. He briefly attended SRHS after middle school and then transferred to Madrone and then Marin Community School. The senior class was shocked by the news of his arrest.

On January 8, 2019, the judge involved in the case delayed the arraignment of the suspect after the District Attorney requested the suspect be tried as an adult. The judge, Beverly Wood, set the new hearing date for March 26 which allows the probation department to “assess whether the teen is suitable for adult prosecution,” according to an update on the case from the Marin Independent Journal. The department will rule on whether the suspect will be tried as an adult based on his previous record and the “sophistication of the alleged crime.”

His arrest is a reality check for students entering their last semester of high school. As the news was spread throughout campus, students became aware that someone their own age was arrested and is the prime suspect for a murder. This news adds to the building anxiety of leaving high school and entering a new phase of their lives. As students enter adulthood and prepare to leave their hometown, the thought of consequence and independence is starting to sink in.