At a Police-hosted community meeting Thursday evening, Brandon Jackson’s aunt, Cheri Costley, told the crowd at Robinson Park Gymnasium that she wants everyone to know that although her nephew was going through a lot of “turmoil” he still woke up every morning and said, “Good Morning, God.”
Parents, classmates, friends, community leaders and family members gathered Thursday evening as Pasadena Police and Altadena Sheriff’s Station Deputies answered questions about the fatal, drive-by shooting of 18-year-old Jackson and other recent incidents in the area. The John Muir High School football player was shot in the 300 block of West Palm Street in Altadena around 10pm Saturday, February 12 after leaving a party.
Police turned to the community to quiet threats of retaliation. Police say Jackson’s shooting may have been gang-related and possibly instigated the shooting of a 44-year-old man in Pasadena and two fights on the John Muir campus. Police do not have any suspects and are asking witnesses to come forward. Police Chief Phillip Sanchez indicated discussions about a reward for information were taking place. But one community member who told the crowd she was part of her neighborhood watch said people should come forward not for a reward, but because it’s the right thing to do. Altadena Police Lt. Joseph Dempsey said anyone with information could anonymously call the non-profit, region-wide Crime Stoppers tip line at 800-222-TIPS.
Chief Sanchez said he wants to work with the community so he reached out to clergy and community leaders like the NAACP Pasadena Branch President Joe Brown to help calm tensions. Still, some thought police weren’t communicating enough with the community. One man asked why the reverse 911 system didn’t inform those in the area about the shooting. Chief Sanchez suggested that Nixle.com, a website that gets information to the community, was a better way of getting the word out and urged everyone to sign up online.
Cheri Costley also said Pasadena police set up the community meeting about her nephew, but didn’t bother contacting any of the family to attend. She also questioned why Pasadena police took charge of the meeting and held it in Pasadena when the incident happened in Altadena.
She said when she arrived at the crime scene on Saturday evening, it was swarming with Pasadena Police searching for the gun, not Altadena Sheriff’s deputies. She suggested that a rivalry between the police departments added to tensions in the community. Still, she said she appreciated the Pasadena Police trying to reach out to the community, which is why she and her sister, Cynthia Brown, attended the meeting and spoke to the crowd. Chief Sanchez and members of the PPD talked to Costley privately after the meeting.
Costely said a Pasadena Star news article on Thursday morning quoting Muir Principal Sheryl Orange saying that Brandon was in turmoil initially bothered her, but she agreed he was struggling, going through rough times and said she appreciated the Principal for reaching out to her nephew and counseling him. Through hard work, Brandon turned around a 0.7 grade point average to 2.7 and could have had a 3.0 by the end of the semester. Brandon had recently gotten a tattoo of a portion of Psalm 91 and also started to talk about going to college.
With tears streaming down her face, Costley said Brandon lost his mother in 2007 and that his oldest sister had been raising him, his twin brother and other brother ever since. She was just 21-years-old at the time and took legal guardianship of the four boys. Yet the extended family is large and has deep roots in Altadena so looked out for each other. Costley said that Brandon was a friendly, outgoing person with lots of friends. She thought that was probably the reason Brandon responded when the suspect in the car called him over before shooting him that fateful night.
To close the meeting, one mother asked what parents can do to keep their kids safe in the community. Chief Sanchez said the first thing is to get involved in their kids lives – know their friends, activities and schedules. He said it was more about supervising than micromanaging their kids. The Chief also suggested that kids get involved in some sort of after school activity to build skills and confidence. He also said that if young people are stopped by the police, they should never be threatening or overbearing, so that everyone can go on their way without further incident.