17-YO arrested in homicide outside San Rafael community center

An arrest has been made in a homicide earlier this week outside a San Rafael community center.

Investigators identified the victim as Errol Friedman, 21, of San Anselmo.

He was gunned down Monday about 6 p.m. in the driver's seat of his car, in the parking lot of the Pickleweed Community Center, in the Canal District. 

San Rafael police detectives identified a 17-year-old boy from Fairfax as the suspect and took him into custody Wednesday afternoon without incident, they said. 

The suspect's identity has not been revealed since he is a minor. He was booked into the Marin County Jail, according to police. 

Initial dispatches described the incident as a "drug deal rip-off," but police are not discussing a motive or possible suspect. 

Witnesses saw a man running away from the scene.  

"This is a place where kids come, where the whole community comes," 18-year-old Diana Luarca told KTVU, as she and her father picked up her 12-year-old sister from after-school Kids Club. 

"When things happen it definitely sparks a little fear and worry."  

Most evenings, the center is busy with indoor basketball, as well as classes and activities involving adults and children. 

"I do know he had a shelter in place," said Aabad Ahmad, an athletics coordinator for the city of San Rafael.

The community center and residents of surrounding streets, were advised to stay inside as police set up a perimeter and searched for a suspect. 

Pickleweed Park, with a playground and sports fields, was also canvassed. 

The killing had the neighborhood talking, 24 hours later. 

"We have people coming in with questions about what's going on," explained Ahmad, "but we have normal business, programs are continuing, nothing has been cancelled."   

Security footage from the building, and other nearby cameras, will be reviewed. 

No one reported seeing anything unusual beforehand.  

"I don't know that this signifies anything, it's very possibly an isolated incident," San Rafael Police Sgt. Lisa Holton told KTVU. 

The Canal neighborhood between the Bay and Highway 101, has been plagued in years past by violence among rival Latino gangs. 

But San Rafael's only other homicide in 2018 was in July, when an elderly man shot his wife to death and then killed himself. 

Prior to that, the most recent killings were in 2011.

One was a woman beaten by her boyfriend in a domestic violence incident in the Canal neighborhood. 

The other was the fatal stabbing of a gang member during a brawl with rival gang members. 

Police attribute the seven year lull to detective work that put many violent suspects behind bars. 

"There were changes in law, and changes in policing," explained Sgt. Holton, "and the fact that many of the gang members responsible for those crimes are now in custody."  

The Luarca family, though, fears their neighborhood is backsliding on safety. 

"I think about my daughter because she comes here every day," said father Donis Luarca, who would like more police presence near the center and the park. 

"Because I see a lot of guys just standing around these corners," Luarca noted. 

Drug dealing? He shrugged, "Maybe, I don't know." 

It's enough to make him nervous, and keep his daughters from going outside after dark.

"I know there was a lot of activity like this in the past, and it stopped for awhile," said teenager Diana, "but lately its been happening again."