RICHMOND, Calif. (KTVU) - A reward is paired with a plea for help in the case of a Richmond man killed by a stray bullet in May. 57 year old Miguel Ramirez was getting his mail when a gun battle broke out near his home.
"July 1st was his birthday in heaven and it's been super-hard," said daughter Erica, at a news conference Tuesday at the Richmond Police Department.
She was flanked by her two sisters, Juliana and Monica, and their mother Aurora.
"My dad did not deserve to go that way, and I still need him, we all still need him," implored Erica.
On May 14th at about 5 p.m., Ramirez had just arrived home from his custodian job in San Francisco, and stepped outside to get his mail when a gun battle broke out.
The violence had nothing to do with him, but a bullet fired 475 feet away struck Ramirez in the back of the head.
"The gun battle covered about one to two blocks with multiple rounds fired," explained Richmond Police Sgt. Enrik Melgoza.
"We're looking for information on individuals who were inside a vehicle and on the sidewalk exchanging gunfire with each other."
Ramirez's brother found him fallen and bleeding profusely.
"I was talking to him, saying 'you are strong, you are very strong, don't give up, please don't give up,' but he never responded, he never said nothing back to me," recalled brother Jesus Ramirez.
A home security camera on Chanslor Street caught an image of bystanders ducking amid gunfire, and a Dodge Durango speeding down the 1700 block. Within days, police found and impounded the vehicle. They arrested the driver, but he didn't cooperate, and was released.
"We know this person was involved, we know that for a fact, we know this person drove the car," said homicide Sgt. Aaron Pomeroy. "And when we can file charges against somebody, they might be more willing to cooperate."
Under new California law, the District Attorney could not charge the driver, because guidelines governing participants in a homicide have changed.
"It has made it more difficult to prosecute individuals who did not actually pull the trigger," admitted Sgt. Pomeroy, "but here a completely innocent person died as a result of these two groups shooting at one another."
The $10,000 reward is offered to motivate witnesses to come forward and identify those responsible.
Loved ones describe Miguel Ramirez as friendly, family-oriented, hard-working and happy.
"In reality the area was not safe, let's be honest, it wasn't," said daughter Erica, remembering how she warned her parents about safety when they moved onto Chanslor Street.
"I would say to my dad, 'don't be in the street, it's not safe,' but he would always say 'it's okay Erica, I'm always going to be okay.'"
Richmond Police offered two numbers for tips in the case: Detective Sagan at (510) 620-6622 and an anonymous tip line at (510) 621-1212 ext 1933.
"The person who did this is still living their life, and who has to suffer the pain? I do, we all do, and it's not fair," said Erica, her voice trembling.
"No one can bring him back, but at least if we get that person we get the peace of mind that justice was served."