The city of Davis, California, has been rocked in recent weeks by a series of stabbings that left two people dead and one hospitalized. While the suspected killer is now off the streets, this small college town will suffer lasting trauma from the incidents.
The first victim, David Henry Breaux, was found slain on a park bench in Central Park where he often sat or slept. The second victim, Karim Abou Najm, was stabbed multiple times in Sycamore Park. The last victim, and the only one to survive, Kimberlee Guillory, was stabbed through her tent at a homeless encampment.
These multiple stabbings over the course of less than a week destroyed peoples’ sense of safety. Businesses in Davis closed early, and UC Davis classes became deserted or were moved online. Davis had a reputation for being a safe place to live, and has not experienced a homicide in years until now.
If anything, these tragedies are a sign of the times. They are the outcome of the increased desperation and poverty of a society that fails to take care of its own. Two out of the three victims were homeless. During this killing spree, the homeless population of Davis had to worry, not just about securing shelter and food, but avoiding a violent and needless death. While community groups temporarily housed more homeless folks, this relief ended once the alleged killer was taken into custody.
The alleged murderer himself is an immigrant from El Salvador, who entered the United States as an unaccompanied minor in 2009. Given the often terrible and violent conditions at the southern border, one can only imagine the experiences he may have endured to enter the country. He also attended Castlemont High School in Oakland. Just a few days ago, two people were shot near this school, another indication of the ever present violence that is a reality in many peoples’ lives.
While this kind of violence in Davis may feel new, it just shows that nowhere is safe when you live in a society that generates this type of violence.