By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
The family and loved ones of Monique Clark, a Black mother of three fatally shot by a 49-year-old White man during a pool party in San Diego, held memorials in her honor and was raising money online to help cover her burial expenses.
Survivors victimized by Peter Selis’ unprovoked shooting rampage at the La Jolla Crossroads apartment complex in University City on April 30 are also raising money online to help pay for medical expenses for six others who were wounded.
Witnesses said Mr. Selis, reportedly a resident at the complex, had been reclining in a lawn chair near the pool for approximately an hour. Then he began shooting at the some 20 to 30 people on hand to celebrate their friend Kion Gould’s 50th birthday party. Mr. Selis, beer in hand at one point, was on the phone with his girlfriend during the shooting, according to police.
With the heaviest of hearts, Michelle Fuget wrote of her daughter: “I woke up on April 30th with my beautiful, funny, feisty, caring, 35-year-old daughter, Monique Clark, living her life fully as the mother of my three granddaughters: Amaya (13), Aliyah (11) and Madison (2).”
In two days after setting up the Go Fund Me page on May 1, just over 900 donors had helped raise $57,000 of Ms. Fuget’s $100,000 goal.
“The grieving process is fresh, raw, and real. My granddaughters lost their mother, I lost my daughter, her siblings lost their sister, and countless other family members and close friends have lost someone who was taken from us too soon due to a senseless, cowardess act of violence,” Ms. Fuget stated.
In early May, the victims had had 10 surgeries collectively, according to Demetrius Griffin’s Go Fund Me page. “Being the kind natured individual that he is, the birthday boy went forth to invite him into our party. The conversation did not last long, I am going to approximate the conversation took about 30 seconds before the gunmen pulled a handgun out of his waistband. As he raised his gun, he shot the birthday boy 2 times in the chest,” he wrote.
The gunman shot one young lady in her left breast and her left arm, another in her leg three times, and a younger male in his left leg, Mr. Griffin continued.
They thought the shooter had exhausted his ammunition, but he had more in his backpack. After reloading, he shot a young man in his abdominal area, a young lady in her “neck region,” and another in her shoulder, according to Mr. Griffin.
A similar fundraising site established for Mr. Gould described him as an amazing person with a huge, loving heart. Any donations will go to directly offset the costs of everything from medical bills, housing, etc. “This is an urgent situation. Words cannot express how deeply saddened we all are at this turn of events. He is currently undergoing multiple surgeries, fighting for his life,” the statement continued.
Debt, depression, a bad relationship–anything but racism–has been cited as the cause of the White mechanic’s deadly shooting that took the life of Ms. Clark and wounded eight others. Mr. Selis shot four Black women, two Black men, one Latino man, and one Caucasian woman before being killed by police. Police say he shot at a ninth person, a Hispanic security guard, but missed.
The San Diego Police Department has maintained race was no factor in the deadly assault, but the investigation is ongoing, and things could change.
Acting Assistant Chief Brian Ahearn told The Final Call in a phone interview that despite assertions in various interviews, there was zero evidence to suggest the shooting was racially motivated.
Some survivors and witnesses feel otherwise. “At no point in time did it cross my mind that we weren’t targeted because of the group that we are,” Lauren Chapman told reporters during a May 2 news conference.
“He was shooting into a crowd of predominantly Black folks,” said a witness who identified himself as Drew Phillips and a friend of Ms. Chapman. He heard no dialogue, no words, just a lot of screaming.
Immediately after the shooting, Mr. Phillips and Ms. Chapman took to Facebook Live with a bone-chilling, blow by blow account of the aftermath. Their dialogue with an investigator was captured in the live stream.
Mr. Phillips said he and another man jumped a fence, but the young man got shot. He said he picked him up, and carried him to safety, about 200 yards away.
Mr. Phillips panned Ms. Chapman’s cell phone toward the scene to show spattered blood and bloody footprints on the sidewalk. Mr. Selis’ body was sprawled out near the lawn chair from which witnesses say he so casually shot at them.
Police say when they arrived he appeared to be reloading, and he fired on responding officers before they shot him.
According to Mr. Phillips, the gun battle with police lasted approximately 20 seconds. “The world needs to see this. People always think, aw, in the hood, in the ghetto. Nope. This is fancy, ritzy, bougie La Jolla,” he said.
He and Ms. Chapman said they began rendering aid to victims until paramedics showed up. He heard about 20 gunshots.
“As a guy who’s been face to face with evil, both foreign and domestic, it is my humble opinion that they took way too long to get here,” Mr. Phillips told the investigator.
Though La Jolla is plush, fancy, and probably doesn’t have a high risk factor, it still took police too long to arrive, he said.
“Those critical minutes could literally mean the difference between life and death,” Mr. Phillips said.
Witnesses observed, gratefully, that children who were in the pool were not injured when the gunman opened fire.
“He was shooting for us. There was no question,” Ms. Chapman told the investigator.
She heard the first pop and thought it was music. When the two men cleared the fence, she knew something was wrong.
She couldn’t clear the fence, but felt a bullet go past her shoulder as she tried. She frantically recounted, one woman got shot in the chest, but was very coherent. Another bled profusely from gunshot wounds to her leg, she said.
“You guys took a long time to get here,” Ms. Chapman reiterated to police investigators.
Mr. Phillips said, “I’m not going to make it about race, but it’s awfully interesting, if you will, that he did not shoot at nobody who wasn’t Black, and he happened to be a White guy.”
Meanwhile, Chief Ahearn continued to speak at length about the investigation and motive when The Final Call asked why Chief Shelley Zimmerman declared early after the incident that Mr. Selis’ motive was not race-based.
“He’s made no statements, and this is all based on witness accounts. There was nothing said, no social media postings, no phone calls, or propaganda at his work, at his home, or in his car, no emails, text messages, or voice mails,” Chief Ahearn stated during a phone interview.
“And then, the day of the shooting and the moments right before, he made no statements. There were no gestures, no behaviors to suggest that he chose that group because of their race,” he continued.
According to witnesses, Mr. Selis bypassed two Whites in a hot tub and he let one White woman go. He also threatened one White woman who was giving aid to Ms. Clark to stop and leave, or be shot, according to witnesses.
Chief Ahearn told The Final Call it was true that Mr. Selis “allowed a Caucasian female to leave the area.”
“He also didn’t shoot at an African American female who was rendering first aid to a victim. … One actual shooting victim is a Caucasian female,” he stated.
The San Diego Police Department is very sensitive to belief that the victims were chosen based on race, but doesn’t have enough proof to label the shootings a hate crime, said Chief Ahearn.
When asked if they’d spoken to Mr. Selis’ girlfriend, Chief Ahearn replied yes. He declined to share what Mr. Selis said to her during the shootings. It’s apparent that he wanted her to listen as he carried out the carnage, the chief said.
Nation of Islam Student Minister Hugh Muhammad in San Diego feels it’s too early for police to determine whether the violence was motivated by race or race hatred.
“I believe, of course, with the recent killing of Alfred Olango (an unarmed Black man) by the police in El Cajon (on Sep. 27, 2016) and some of the other tensions, I think in their rush to say it’s not a race situation could be–I’m not sure–to try to neutralize what they think could possibly erupt,” he said.
In addition to ruling out race as a factor after the incident, some were outraged at the police investigator asking Ms. Chapman if they were playing “loud music or anything.”
“So they were playing music, but you’re not talking N.W.A. or anything like that?” he asked Ms. Chapman.
What does loud music or N.W.A. (gangsta rap group Niggaz Wit Attitudes) have to do with the attack on innocent civilians? asked friends on her Facebook thread.