After Sandy Hook, fathers touched by gun violence share special connection

Greg Gibson will never forget where he was five years ago. It’s where he’s been every Dec. 14 for the last 25 years. 

“We were in the graveyard,” Gibson said. “Putting up a tree over our son’s grave.”

His son Galen was a sweet, empathetic 18-year-old who was killed in a school shooting at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Massachusetts on Dec. 14, 1992.

“We’re walking home from the graveyard and my daughter looks at her phone and she says, ‘You won’t believe what just happened,'” Gibson said.

Two hundred miles away, the horror at Sandy Hook was becoming the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, with 20 first-graders and six staffers gunned down.

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Daniel Barden, left, and Galen Gibson, right.

CBS News

Mark Barden’s 7-year-old son Daniel was among those murdered that day. “He was a gregarious, affectionate, happy little soul,” he said.

For 20 years, Gibson had lived the hell Barden was just entering. “You know, outside of our tragedy here in Newtown, Greg was the first person that I had the opportunity to speak to who had suffered a similar tragedy,” said Barden.

They soon realized another connection. Both sons had not only died on the same date, but they shared a birthday as well — Sept. 27.

“What continues to anger me is that people seem to be more interested in the coincidences, these awful coincidences, than how did these things happen,” said Gibson.

Both men have channeled their grief, and rage, into preventing them from happening again. Gibson pressures lawmakers with the group Everytown for Gun Safety. 

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Greg Gibson, left, and Mark Barden, right.

CBS News

“I think we, as a people, have a right to reclaim that second amendment on our terms, and it’s nothing to do with taking your guns away,” Gibson said. “300 million out there, nothing is going to change that. What we can change is how we behave, how we think about this.”

Frustrated with Congress after Newtown, Barden focuses instead on Sandy Hook Promise, training 2.5 million students in 4,000 schools, preventing suicides and at least two other school shootings.

“Before somebody does something like this they give off signs,” said Barden. “And if we can train people to recognize those signs and take a next step, we can prevent this from happening.”

On this Dec. 14, the two fathers don’t want tears for their sons. They want action.

“This was a kid who would pick the worms off up the sidewalk because he wanted to spare them from the sun,” Gibson said. “I’ve made a conscious effort to kind of try to carry that forward.”

That, they say, is the best way to honor their sons and more than 300 others killed in school shootings since Dec. 14, 1992.

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Chumash gifts connect Santa Ynez Valley students through technology | News

It’s hard to overstate the importance of technology in every facet of today’s world. From work environments and home entertainment systems, to social media and educational institutions, access to digital tools is crucial to the advancement of adults and kids alike.

With that in mind, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians recently donated 70 laptop computers to two local schools. The Santa Ynez Valley Christian Academy (SYVCA) and an English classroom at Cabrillo High School in Lompoc each received 35 Chromebook computers and a mobile charging cart.

“The Santa Ynez band of Chumash Indians puts a huge emphasis on education,” said Kenneth Kahn, tribal chairman. “One of the needs has been technology in our schools, not only for teachers but also for students.”

Although the tribe supports traditional, expert-led educational efforts throughout Santa Barbara County, it also promotes computers as learning tools through its Technology in Schools Program.

In addition to the recent Chromebook donations to SYVCA and Cabrillo High School, La Honda STEAM Academy in Lompoc and Santa Barbara Community Academy have benefited from Chumash educational programs. The tribe, which owns and operates the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, announced the Technology in Schools Program is spearheaded by its Technology Services division and volunteers from Team Chumash.

“For us, it’s important to have one-on-one instruction,” Kahn said. “But we’ve identified a need for technology and embraced it as a component of our overall [educational] strategy.”

The tribal chairman said educational leaders from the Santa Ynez-based Christian Academy and Cabrillo High School expressed interest in improving learning through students’ access to online curriculum.

“We’re proud to be able to help with these Chromebooks,” he said.

Scott Carleton, principal of the SYV Christian Academy, said the Chumash gift will help “expand” the use of technology in classrooms, which he called a “vital part of our students’ education.”

SYVCA, located in Santa Ynez, is a K–8 school.

“We’re going to be able to connect with our students,” Carleton said of the donated computers. “This maximizes our ability to teach.”

Referring to computers in the classroom as tools that enhance learning, Carleton said the Chromebooks will be shared among all 113 students at the school.

“We currently have 25 student computers, so this will expand our tablets twofold,” he said, noting the academy received the Chromebooks on Nov. 29.

“Pretty cool,” Carleton said of the gift, noting the Chromebooks are not quite in use yet.

“We have to be able to safeguard them, internet-wise,” the principal said.

“It’s great for supplementing curriculum for language-arts,” he added. “You can use them for research, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. As you can imagine, working on tablets is engaging for students … . It just really enhances the learning process.”

Jennifer Moreno, an English teacher at Lompoc’s Cabrillo High School, said her students will use the Chromebooks for research, writing and presentation projects, and to access digital textbooks.

“For the last few years, we have been sharing carts of Chromebooks between departments,” Moreno said in a release. “It is hard to start projects online when we have no guarantee of continuous access to the computers to finish the work.

“This classroom cart of Chromebooks means that my students can have daily access to technology,” said Moreno, who also teaches English-language development classes at Cabrillo High School. “We’d like to thank the Chumash for their generosity.”

Improving education for underprivileged children is a key component of Kahn’s annual goals as tribal chairman.

“Our core programs that we support are really focused on services, which target low-income families — and absolutely, education is an important component of that,” said Kahn. “We felt the technology [program] was kind of to keep up with the times, and also to keep our audience — the youth — in touch with the times.”

Kahn said multimedia tools — including digital computing, audio and visual technologies — are key components for educating youth about Native American culture and history. It’s important to work with the entire community when it comes to improving education, he said. Part of that effort is to form partnerships with a diverse range of community groups, including schools.

“The Christian Academy we’ve been partners with on many levels as an ongoing part of our educational goals,” Kahn said of the tribe’s donations to a variety of institutions throughout Santa Barbara County. “As far as diversity goes, we’ve taken an approach to support groups that support families, and particularly early childhood development.”

The Chromebook donations are an outgrowth of the Chumash Charity Golf Classic, which recently donated $120,000 to five Santa Barbara County museums as part of the tribe’s educational efforts.

“This Technology in Schools Program is an area we’ve specifically targeted a need for,” Kahn said. “[It] was actually born out of the golf tournament.”

While acknowledging some educators fear digital technology in classrooms could someday replace teachers, Kahn said he views the use of computers as enhancements to learning.

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“I want to make sure the technology isn’t a distraction,” Kahn said. “But I certainly see the importance of technology as giving us greater access.

“Every month, we see something new,” he continued, referring to technological innovations. “On an annual basis, we’re just trying to keep up with that. We want to make sure everyone has access.”

For Carleton, the gift shows “incredible generosity” from the Chumash Tribe. The principal said he was overwhelmed by the donation.

“This maximizes our ability to teach with technology tools,” Carleton said. “Technology is the future for our kids. Also, if you’re a teacher, it gives you a variety of ways to teach students and assess them.”

Carleton added that SYVCA appreciates the effort to help the Valley’s youth by supporting technology in classrooms.

“We just have great gratitude for the Chumash,” he said. “This is the way a community should work. We have a number of students at our school who are Chumash, and it’s been a blessing for them — and all our students.”

Kahn explained the choice of schools, museums and other Santa Barbara County educational organizations that have benefited from donations in recent years are directly related to diversity goals.

“We work in partnerships with other programs that leverage diversity,” he said, referring to California Assembly Bill (AB)-738, which the SYV Chumash supported to promote the teaching of Native American culture as a core high school curriculum in public and charter schools throughout the state.

“We want to make sure the right history is taught, and certainly technology will play a role in that as a tool,” Kahn said.

Respecting the traditions and focusing on the goals of tribal elders are important facets of the Chumash Technology in Schools Program, he emphasized.

“Our elders saw a need and really embraced education for our tribe,” Kahn explained, noting the annual high school graduation rate continues to climb for tribal students, along with the number of Chumash students enrolling in college.

“Every year, we improve our [educational] program,” he said. “Twenty years ago, we had a single-wide trailer with some college students who tutored our children.”

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Access trail will be the first to connect Franklin with Brentwood parks

Access trail will be the first to connect Franklin with Brentwood parks

Photo: The entrance to The Meade of Avalon subdivision, which is adjacent to Brentwood’s Marcella Vivrette Smith Park.

By LANDON WOODROOF

When residents at The Meade of Avalon subdivision in Franklin first heard that the City of Brentwood was planning on building a park right next door to them, many of them were intrigued. They wondered if it would be possible to build a trail connecting their subdivision to the park.

Recently, Brentwood finished construction of phase two at Marcella Vivrette Park, which included a new portion of trail around playing fields. Now that this section of trail is complete, it has become feasible to build that access trail between Franklin and Brentwood.

At Monday night’s Brentwood City Commission meeting, commissioners approved an agreement between the city and the Avalon Homeowner’s Association to construct that trail. The HOA is putting up $20,000 to cover the costs, although a contractor for the City of Brentwood will do the paving. It is expected to be completed this spring.

Although there is currently no paved path connecting The Meade of Avalon and Smith Park, there is a grass and dirt trail that many of the subdivision’s residents already use to access the park.

This area will be paved to allow The Meade of Avalon residents easier access to Marcella Vivrette Smith Park.

Randy Mitchell is on the HOA board for the neighborhood and walks to the park frequently with his dog, Bailey. The paved path will make accessing the park even easier, and Mitchell says residents approach him almost daily asking him about it.

“They always stop and say, ‘Hey when’s it going to happen?’” Mitchell said.

Mitchell is excited at the prospect of not only being connected to Smith Park via the new access trail, but the larger Brentwood trail system as well. After all, you can walk from the trail at Smith Park all the way over the Crockett Park and down to the John P. Holt Brentwood Library.

“For what it’s worth, we’re the only Franklin address that’s connected to the Brentwood city park system,” Mitchell said. “It’s very unique.”

Not only is the trail access good for the sake of convenience, it also offers other potential benefits for The Meade of Avalon homeowners.

“We have a real estate agent on our board and they project maybe a 15 to 20 percent premium on our homes once that opens up,” Mitchell said about the access trail.

City of Brentwood Community Relations Director Deanna Lambert confirmed that the access trail at The Meade of Avalon will be the first of its kind linking Brentwood and Franklin.

“Basically this is just the nature of the City of Brentwood, working with communities that are close to Brentwood but are not in the Brentwood city limits,” Lambert said.

One of the new playing fields recently completed as part of phase two of Smith Park’s construction.

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Men accused of extorting Cleveland barbershop owner investigated in connection with Bedford Heights slaying

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Two brothers accused of threatening to burn down a Cleveland barbershop in an extortion attempt are also being investigated in connection with a deadly shooting in Bedford Heights, police said.

Jerry Baker Jr., 27 — also known as Jerry Bogarty — and his brother Daryon Bogarty, 22, are both charged with extortion, a third-degree felony, in the Cleveland case.

The brothers are accused of threatening to burn down Fa’Ness Barber and Salon on East 116th Street near Buckeye Road unless the owner paid them $40,000 or signed over ownership of the business, according to police reports.

Baker, who is accused in court records of being a hitman for a recently-killed drug dealer, called the barbershop’s owner Dec. 4 and said the owner owed money to his brother. The owner denied the claims, and Baker gave him 24 hours to pay up or he’d shoot up the barbershop or burn it to the ground, according to police reports.

Baker called back an hour later and gave the owner one hour to pay up or sign over the store, reports say. Nothing happened until Sunday, when Baker and Bogarty went to the barbershop and threatened an employee while showing a gun, reports say.

The duo walked into the shop about 5:15 p.m. Baker walked around screaming threats at the employees while he had a gun sticking out of his pocket, police said.

Baker grabbed the butt of the gun several times while issuing the threats against the barbershop owner, reports say. Bogarty stood by silently with a gun in his pocket, reports say.

Baker said the owner owed him $40,000 and that he’d steal everything from the barbershop and shut it down if he didn’t get paid, reports say.

During the incident, Baker also mentioned a homicide that police are investigating a homicide as having a possible link to the brothers, reports say.

The two men left the shop and drove by slowly in a silver Chrysler 200, reports say.

While officers were at the shop taking statements, the shop owner called police and said he spotted the men driving on East 93rd Street at Harvard Avenue, reports say.

Officers spotted the car about 6:45 p.m. on East 116th Street and Kinsman Avenue. The officers stopped the car and found Baker in the driver’s seat with a bag of marijuana in his pocket, police reports say.

Baker and his brother were arrested along with Raeshawn Davis, a 27-year-old woman who was also in the car, police said. Davis is charged with carrying a concealed weapon.

Officers found suspected heroin, cocaine, $3,270, five cellphones, two loaded handguns, a loaded semi-automatic rifle and 38 bullets in the car, according to police reports.

Baker, Bogarty and Davis are scheduled to appear Tuesday in court.

Detectives wrote in court records that Baker and Bogarty are being investigated in connection with two specific homicides, though the records do not say which ones.

Assistant Bedford Heights Police Chief Dave Leonardi said his detectives are investigating the possibility that the brothers are linked to the Dec. 1 slaying of Errone McCrimon.

McCrimon, 34, of Cleveland, was backing his truck into his driveway in the 5900 block of White Pine Drive when someone ran up and opened fire on him, Leonardi said. McCrimon was shot several times and died at MetroHealth.

Leonardi said investigators have submitted evidence to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation in regards to the shooting. He said they are also waiting to confer with Cleveland detectives to get more information regarding the possible connection between the shooting and the extortion arrest.

McCrimon was a friend of the barbershop owner, according to police reports.

Bogarty and Baker have prior felony convictions. Bogarty was sentenced to one year of probation in 2015 for spitting on a corrections officer and destroying an Xbox video game console at the Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility in Highland Heights, records show.

Baker was released from prison May 10 and is currently on post-prison release supervision for possessing a gun as a felon and for fleeing from Garfield Heights police, records show.

In that case, Garfield Heights police tried to stop Baker’s car on Aug. 11, 2016. He led police on a high-speed chase until he pulled into a driveway on Andover Boulevard. He jumped out of the car and jumped into a trash bin to hide from police.

Officers found him and a loaded handgun that he hid under the trash bin. He was sentenced to nine months in prison.

Baker was also sentenced to five years in adult prison for two armed robberies he committed in 2006 and 2007 when he was 16 years old, including an armed carjacking at East 70th Street and Kinsman, records show.

To comment on this story, please visit Monday’s crime and courts comments page.