It’s worth examining what’s being done to keep our community
safe and asking some difficult questions
The tragic death of former Garlic Festival Queen Franca Barsi is a sad tale of missed opportunities.

Barsi’s body was discovered on Wednesday. The suspect in her murder, David Vincent Reyes, 39, was located by San Jose police on Thursday morning not long after Gilroy police issued an alert to nearby police agencies to be on the lookout for the two vehicles belonging to Barsi.

Reyes was spotted driving a minivan registered to Barsi. After an hour-long chase up and down U.S. 101 through South County, Reyes was arrested.

Papers released during Reyes’ arraignment on Monday state that he confessed to killing Barsi following a heated argument.

Besides the sad tragedy involving wrong turns and a young woman full of promise, what’s disturbing about this case is that Reyes had been featured on Gilroy’s Most Wanted list for serious crimes: armed robbery and violations of sex offender registration laws.

His picture plastered in the newspaper on Thursday for all to see, and yet still this senseless murder occurred.

Police say that Reyes had dated Barsi for more than a year and lived in Gilroy with Barsi, 38, and her 10-year-old son in her Westwood Drive condominium.

It’s a literal crying shame that Reyes – one of the most wanted criminals in our community, living openly in our town – hadn’t been taken into custody before the murder of Franc Barsi. The crimes that landed him on the Most Wanted list were serious, put the community at great risk, and, presumably. warranted a serious search to apprehend him.

The tragic situation is a cry for reinstatement of the “Lucky Seven” program instituted under former mayor Mike Gilroy’s tenure that featured repeated parole searches and daily checks on the criminals “lucky” enough to make the list.

Would Barsi’s murder have been avoided if more intensive efforts to locate Reyes had been used? Would a tip call call from someone in the community who spotted him on the Most Wanted list have saved her life?

Yes, it’s all hindsight and speculation. But the point is to re-examine procedures. What can we do better? If you spot a criminal on the Most Wanted list, call police. They need our help. Gilroy’s fortunate to not have a high crime rate. But we do have some very bad guys among us and the folks on the Most Wanted list are the worst of those.

Meanwhile, the Gilroy Police Department administrations should consider reviving the “Lucky Seven” program to further protect the community from those who flout the law in the most dangerous and damaging ways.

The tragic death of Franca Barsi should prompt the community the tools which are used to keep residents safe.

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