Fatal shooting at Sobrato complex

Property management taped notices to the doors of each residence at Sobrato Apartments Monday morning. 

A 21-year-old Gilroy male was fatally shot by an unknown suspect Sunday night at Sobrato Transitional Apartments on Monterey Road, near Pinocchio’s Pizza No. 1.

Police responded to Saint Louise Regional Hospital at 8:31 p.m. Sunday after the victim was transported from the apartment complex in a private vehicle. Medics were unable to save him and he was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to Police Sgt. Chad Gallacinao.

Details of what happened remain slim: The victim suffered from one gunshot wound to an undisclosed location by an unknown caliber firearm, and the suspect’s identity and whereabouts are currently unknown, according to police. Police have not revealed if they believe the shooting was gang-related. Police have contacted and interviewed the person who drove the victim to the hospital, but did not release that person’s name.

Police are not releasing the victim’s name or the tenant who lives at the apartment where crime scene investigators were stationed Monday.

On Monday morning, a large portion of the parking lot at the apartment complex was taped off as crime scene investigators carried evidence from a second-floor apartment, the location where the shooting may have occurred, although police did not confirm that on Monday.

Management at Sobrato Transitional Apartments said residents were not in danger, but were asked to refrain from activities outdoors at the apartment complex until further notice.

By Monday afternoon, investigators had left the apartment complex and some residents began to venture outside. Neighbors directly above and below the apartment that was searched for evidence said they did not hear gunshots the night before, and said they did not know the woman who leased the apartment where the shooting may have happened.

A young mother held her 6-month-old son as she watched her other two children play in the grassy area of the apartment’s courtyard Monday afternoon.

“Just because something like that happened here doesn’t change the fact that most of us are here to make the best we can out of this program,” said Sonya Ortiz, 23.

Ortiz, a stay-at-home mother of three, said that the woman who rented the apartment where the incident occurred went by the first name of Julie, and had lived at Sobrato for less than a couple months, although the two didn’t associate much.

Describing Julie as “into partying,” Ortiz said she’d rather spend time with positive people in the Sobrato community, which she personally has found to be helpful in her journey to provide a safe living situation for her children.

“It’s sad this happened before managers could stop it. They usually catch on to stuff pretty fast,” Ortiz said, referring to the policies the complex managers enforce against drugs, curfew violations and any other activities that “disturb the peace.”

Ortiz said that there was “always a lot of traffic” coming in and out of the searched apartment.

“It’s just scary they haven’t caught whoever did this,” she said. “My neighbor doesn’t want to come outside because she’s scared. I’m not going to have my kids cooped up all day because of this, but still, it would be nice to know who did this so we can all just go back to our lives.”  

Sobrato Transitional Apartments is run by South County Housing, a nonprofit, publicly funded organization that seeks to provide affordable housing to people in need. Sobrato, in particular, is a temporary housing complex for people who are homeless or at the risk of becoming homeless, as defined by the state of California.

Residents must qualify to become tenants at Sobrato, requiring references from a social worker who can attest to the person’s desire to turn their lives around and financially get back on their feet, said Dennis Lalor, South County Housing president.

“This is more than regrettable, this is tragic,” Lalor said, referring to Sunday night’s shooting. “But I sure hope this doesn’t take away from the fact that Sobrato Apartments provides a very important service to the community.”

Lalor would not say if the property manager at Sobrato had issued any warnings to the resident whose apartment was searched Monday morning.

There are two programs at Sobrato, one for a more rigorous recovery program, which allows residents to stay for two years, maximum, and a lighter program regime, where residents can stay for up to three years.

“It’s unfortunate to have something like this happen,” Lalor said. “It is true that it is very possible, that some of our tenants may have associations with people from their past life. Not everyone is committed to turning their lives around.”

Tenants at Sobrato are held responsible for the actions of their guests, Lalor said.

“But we don’t know what happened last night. Our tenant could have had nothing to do with this. The victim could have been an absolute stranger. That’s why it’s a little bit fruitless, or even wrong, for us to speculate,” Lalor said.

On Monday afternoon, residents seemed concerned about how the shooting may affect the taxpayer funded transitional housing program’s reputation in the community.

“I feel bad that happened but the people who live here, we are not all like that,” said Patricia Chacon, 44-year-old Sobrato resident. “I have a job and a daughter and I work really hard. This was an isolated incident,” she said.

As of Monday evening, police would not reveal any other details about the investigation. Contact the GPD with any information regarding this incident at 846-0350.