Three witnesses and a Berkeley homicide detective helped authorities zero in on the 31-year-old Oakland man now charged with murder in the killing of a Vallejo man Sunday morning in Albany, court documents released Wednesday reveal.
But the 21-year-old Berkeley woman arrested Monday with the Oakland man, Thomas Shimamura, is no longer in custody, according to Alameda County jail records online. According to court documents, Kayla Gibson-Wytch told police she was with Shimamura when he shot Fuentes-Lee on Sunday at about 11:30 a.m. It was unknown as of publication time whether she might still face charges. Berkeleyside has asked the Albany Police Department for further information.
Police found 23-year-old Raphael Fuentes-Lee of Vallejo lying on a bench on the Ohlone Greenway path that connects Berkeley to El Cerrito on Sunday morning. He had been shot once in the head. Paramedics took Fuentes-Lee to the hospital, but he did not survive.
Wednesday, authorities charged Shimamura with Fuentes-Lee’s murder in the fatal shooting. Shimamura’s name is the only one listed in charging documents released Wednesday by the Alameda County district attorney’s office. He has no prior convictions, according to Alameda County court records online.
Two witnesses told police they saw a man and woman near someone on a bench at the time of the shooting, according to court papers. One heard a gunshot, turned to see the woman “throw her hands up,” then saw the pair run north on the Greenway toward El Cerrito. The other witness described a similar scene to police, APD wrote in court documents, and managed to photograph the pair as they left.
Albany PD shared the witness photographs with area law enforcement agencies as part of the investigation. It was a Berkeley PD homicide detective who recognized Gibson-Wytch from the photographs and told APD who she was, according to court papers.
One of the witnesses, during a photo line-up, then identified Gibson-Wytch as the woman on the Greenway on Sunday, police wrote. The killing took place adjacent to the 600 block of Masonic Avenue, between Portland Avenue to the south and Garfield Avenue to the north.
Berkeley police officers also helped Albany PD arrest Gibson-Wytch in Berkeley on Monday without incident. Later in the day, APD spotted Shimamura walking in Berkeley, on San Pablo Avenue, and arrested him, police said earlier this week.
According to court papers, Shimamura told police he was in Albany on Sunday, but said nothing about the homicide. He said he wanted a lawyer before he would provide a statement, police wrote.
Gibson-Wytch, however, identified Shimamura “as being part of the homicide,” and said she was with him when it happened, police wrote in court documents. “It was established that Shimamura was the person who fired that fatal shot” that killed Fuentes-Lee, police wrote.
Shimamura remains in custody, held without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, and is set to enter a plea Thursday at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland.
Alameda County’s Odyssey court record system online lists no pending cases against Gibson-Wytch. According to localcrimenews.com, she has been arrested previously, however, by UCPD and authorities in Fremont, in connection with drug violations.
A woman who identified herself as Fuentes-Lee’s mother, Lynda Clemons, told KTVU earlier this week that her son “was mentally ill and living on the streets.” The last time she talked to him was January.
“I said, be careful. Please come home,” Clemons told KTVU. “He said he didn’t want to come home. He said he liked being out, talking to people.”
An Albany woman told Berkeleyside she first noticed Fuentes-Lee in the city about a week ago, at the Albany Community Center. He was there all day Tuesday, then also Wednesday and Thursday until closing.
“Seemed a little ‘off’ but was friendly and nice [and] polite,” she wrote. “Made sense when you talked with him. Never hostile or aggressive. I did not see any negative interactions with other homeless who hang there or with any staff,” which isn’t always the case, she added. “Seemed like he hadn’t been on the street too long. Wheel fell off his cart, duct taped back on, and just gone the following day. Seemed younger than it turns out he was.”
The Albany Police Department is looking for witnesses who may have been in the area of the homicide shortly before 11:30 a.m. They ask anyone with information to call APD at 510-525-7300.
Berkeleyside will update this story if additional detail becomes available.