Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Skateboarder dies as hero

Skateboarder killed in park was 'a hero' Southern California News

Saturday, November 24, 2007
The Press-Enterprise

Slideshow: Memorial for skateboarder Mike Reed

FONTANA - The two-fingered peace sign was as much a part of Mike Reed's image as his skateboard or colorful bandanas. And if anyone saw it as just a pose, friends will forever point to the last few seconds of his life.

Reed, a 21-year-old Rialto resident, was fatally shot Wednesday when he tried to stop a robbery at Fontana Skate Park.

Stan Lim / The Press-Enterprise
Fellow skaters cover the ground at their skateboards with tributes to Mike Reed, 21, of Rialto. They gathered at Jack Bulik Park in Fontana on Friday to mourn Reed, who was killed there Wednesday when he told a group of teens to leave after they pulled a gun.

According to police and the man Reed aided, Reed saw a teen put a gun to a fellow skater's head, so he asked them to leave. The gunman shot Reed instead. On Friday, as dozens of red-eyed skaters turned the area into a memorial -- tagging peace signs and "Mike's Park" onto signs and sidewalks -- the man Reed helped expressed his gratitude.

"I don't know what the hell would have happened if he wasn't there," said 21-year-old John De La Cruz. "He stepped up for me and I kind of see him as a hero now."

No arrests have been made.

Fontana police said the shooter, described only as a male between 15 and 18 years old, entered the Juniper Avenue park with three accomplices shortly after 8:30 p.m. De La Cruz said the group asked for loose change. When he said he had none, one put him in a headlock and pulled a gun.

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Josh Thompson, of Fontana, and other skateboarders mourn for Mike Reed, who died after being shot Wednesday at Jack Bulik Park. "He had so much going for him," a friend said.

That caught Reed's attention.

"Within two seconds, the guy shot him. Just for saying something," De La Cruz said. "Basically he asked the guy what his problem was, and to take it somewhere else."

Everyone froze in shock as the suspects ran off and Reed lay bleeding from the head, De La Cruz said. He died at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center less than an hour later.

"He was a peacemaker down there," said his mother, Carmen Reed. Her son spent upwards of 12 hours a day at the skate park in an effort to turn pro, she said. "It was his life."

Although he also found work through a temp agency, Reed's real occupation was skating. Only weeks earlier, the self-proclaimed hippie known for the 360-degree skateboarding trick "Switch Trey Flips" landed his first sponsor: the Citizen skateboard clothing company.

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"He had so much going for him," said Cara Lawson, a 17-year-old Fontana skater who knew Reed for seven years. Behind her, a skater obscured by large sunglasses yelled: "The legend of Fontana!"

Jimi Hendrix played from a boom box and just about every skateboard in the park was tagged with "R.I.P. Mike Reed" during Friday's growing memorial to the skater. The mood was somber, but no one said the shooting would deter them from skating. Josh Thompson, who held back tears most of the morning, said that the park is well-lit after dark, and that most of the time everyone "just chills."

Councilman Frank Scialdone, a former police chief, said the skate park's placement within Jack Bulik Park, along the edge of Juniper Avenue, means that police can drive by and easily peek inside. Plans have been made to have park staff members on site during all hours the skatepark is open.

"I don't think you'll see a reduction in usage," Scialdone said. "But we're always looking for ways to improve security."

The park is a frequent spot for police activity, said Sgt. Jeff Decker, but most calls are skateboard or iPod robberies. He recalled one nonfatal shooting elsewhere in Jack Bulik Park several years back. Reed's father, Michael Lee Reed Sr., said his son loathed war of any kind, reminding him of famed reggae singer Bob Marley. Standing nearby, the victim's 17-year-old brother, Demetrius, couldn't immediately bring himself to add anything.

But an hour later, he sent a text message to a friend at the skate park, wanting it to be passed along. It read: "He was all about peace."

$15000 reward set in investigation of skater's death
Press-Enterprise, CA - 28th Nov

The City Council offered a reward Tuesday night for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever killed skater Michael Reed Jr. last week at Fontana Skate Park.

The council put up $5,000, and, during the council meeting, developer Reggie King, a partner in Young Homes, sent a text message to Mayor Mark Nuaimi pledging another $10,000 to the reward fund. The council -- with Councilwoman Janice Rutherford absent -- accepted King's offer and unanimously approved the $15,000 reward.

Reed, a 21-year-old Rialto resident, died at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center shortly after the Nov. 21 shooting. The skate park lies within Jack Bulik Park, in central Fontana.

"We need (the public's) assistance in solving this crime," Councilwoman Acquanetta Warren said in proposing the reward.

"We have a number of leads we're following up on," Fontana Police Chief Larry Clark told the council.

Clark urged anyone with information to call WeTip, the anti-crime hotline that keeps the identities of tipsters confidential.

Warren and Councilman John Roberts paid their condolences to Reed's parents and younger brother on Monday. The family hasn't finalized funeral arrangements, she said. Clark appealed to grieving skaters to stop scrawling graffiti memorializing Reed, who was slain trying to protect another youth from being robbed.

"As a result of their vandalism, the skate park has been closed ... for several days," the police chief said. Roberts suggested the council consider placing a plaque in Reed's memory at the skate park, or perhaps renaming it in his memory.

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