every CA politician should read this, especially what the father said (highlighted red below).
'Definitely an innocent victim' is shot dead
Young woman hit as 2 men try to rob boyfriend
Henry K. Lee, Janine DeFao, Chronicle Staff Writers
Friday, December 16, 2005
Malia Helen Tufono wanted to leave home and lead her own life in San Francisco, where she spent her childhood. Her parents resisted, thinking it too dangerous, but relented when she promised to call home every day -- a vow she kept, ending each conversation saying she loved them.
But their worst fears were realized Wednesday night when a gunman killed Tufono, 22, as she tried to intervene in the mugging of her boyfriend outside his East Oakland apartment, police said Thursday.
"She's definitely an innocent victim," said Oakland homicide Sgt. Brian Medeiros, who is investigating the shooting. "Without a doubt, she was just in the wrong spot."
Word of her death devastated her co-workers and parents, who recalled their daughter -- known to friends as Helen -- as a sweet girl who always had a smile on her face, a greeting for everyone and a buck or two for the homeless.
"She was the sweetest thing," Carl Tufono, 52, of Rancho Cordova (Sacramento County) said of his daughter, speaking through tears. "I'd do anything to take her place."
Tufono returned to San Francisco six or seven months ago to live with her aunt, Naomi Faataui, 43, who said of her niece, "She helps a lot of people. If she saw a homeless person on the street, she would stop and give him a dollar, every time."
The shooting occurred as two men tried to rob Tufono's boyfriend outside an apartment on the 1300 block of 97th Avenue in the city's Elmhurst district, police said. Investigators have arrested one suspect, whom they would not identify, and are searching for at least one other.
Authorities said it did not appear the boyfriend -- whom they also refused to identify, citing concerns for his safety -- knew the men who attempted to rob him as he descended a staircase after leaving his home. At least one of the men was armed and fired during a struggle for control of the gun, police said.
"His girlfriend is shot coming out of the house," Medeiros said.
One of the assailants fled, but the other was still struggling with Tufono's boyfriend as police arrived. Paramedics rushed Tufono to Highland Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The boyfriend received a minor injury and was released after being treated at the hospital. Tufono's relatives said they knew little about him.
Malia Tufono was born in San Francisco and spent most of her life there. Her family -- she had four sisters and two brothers -- moved to Rancho Cordova about five years ago. Carl Tufono said he had qualms when his daughter said she'd like to return to the Bay Area.
"But she said, 'I'll be OK, Dad and Mom.' And every day she called home, two or three times," he said. "Our last words were, 'I love you, Daddy.' 'I love you too, baby.' Every time."
Mele Tufono, 45, wailed as she said, "It's not fair at all. I would give my life to touch my baby one more time."
Carl Tufono lamented the proliferation of guns, saying, "Man, why is this so easy? We keep making these gun laws, but it doesn't make any difference to a criminal what laws are made."
Tufono had worked since September as a cashier at Restaurant Depot, a restaurant-supply company in San Francisco.
"She was the nicest girl that we had working here," said administrative assistant Angela Calderon. "We're really shocked and extremely sad. Our sympathies go out to the family, especially because she was really sweet."
On Thursday, scraps of yellow police tape hung from a rickety staircase and blocked a path near the building where the shooting occurred. Spots of blood stained the concrete backyard, which was littered with children's toys.
Police said the neighborhood is a gang stronghold.
A neighbor who has lived on the block for 30 years, who declined to give her name, said the area generally is quiet, though it had been plagued by drug dealing in the past.
"You don't like to hear of a shooting anywhere, especially in your neighborhood," she said.
E-mail the writers at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
"So let's take them ALL away from the law-abiding citizens and victims, and that leaves all the guns in the hands of who?"