Updated 10:49 a.m. Friday
After more than four years, local authorities have made a breakthrough in the shooting death of 14-year-old Vernon Eddins, who was slain in front of Barnard-White Middle School on Dec. 21, 2007.
According to Inside Bay Area, six men were charged Thursday with murder for the benefit of a street gang.
Among those charged is Robert Yim, 21, who was . Online court records indicate Yim was arrested on suspicion of Eddins’ murder on Wednesday while in custody at Santa Rita Jail.
According to the IBA report and court records, Yim’s co-defendents include:
- Eric Anthony Camacho;
- Jovencio Luis Camacho, 22, who was arrested Wednesday afternoon in Union City;
- Richard Antonio Corona, 21, who was arrested Wednesday morning in Hayward;
- Alexis Alfonso Pamiroyan, 22, who was arrested Wednesday evening in Hayward; and
- Derek Justin Rodriguez, 23, who was arrested in San Leandro Thursday evening.
Arrest records for Eric Camacho were still not online Friday morning. Records do show that four of the suspects appeared at the Hayward Hall of Justice at 2 p.m. Thursday.
The arrests were made in an investigative operation by the Southern Alameda County Major Crimes Task Force and the , along with other assisting agencies, said Cmdr. Ben Horner of the Union City Police Department.
The investigation is ongoing and additional details will be released in an official UCPD statement to be released.
News of the arrests sparked intense emotions among those who knew Eddins personally.
“I can still remember talking on the phone with him and hanging out and talking to him about almost everything. I still remember every little detail of his face & smile. He had one of the best smiles in the world,” . “I was devastated that day. I still remember running from my house to Barnard thinking I could help him, [in] denial that he was already gone.”
Matt Haney, 19, said hearing that there was a breakthrough in the case was “better than winning the lotto” as he worried Eddins’ case had grown cold. The two attended Barnard-White and played basketball together. They would have graduated together last year.
Haney said he was shocked and thought someone was playing a prank on him the day he learned of Vernon’s death.
“I never imagined something like that would happen to someone I know,” Haney said. “He was just that one happy kid. He was never a wannabe gangbanger; he was just a kid walking around with a smile all the time.”
“If they really have found Vernon’s killers, the Union City Police Department should be commended for that. It’s really good news for Vernon’s mom,” said Karen Yifru, who lost her son, , then 17, to gun violence in June of 2007.
And 2007 was particularly critical for Union City, as Jesus Cruz was also shot and killed in November while celebrating his 21st birthday. Cruz' killing was followed by Vernon’s death a month later.
Following Biniam’s death, Yifru joined with community partners to help form the Youth Violence Prevention Coalition — the predecessor to the city’s Youth Violence Prevention and Intervention Program. She said Vernon’s death later that year served as another catalyst for change in the community.
“For me, Vernon’s death brought us to a common ground. It affected everyone,” Yifru told Patch Thursday night. “When Vernon died, he pushed us over the edge and pushed us forward. He was 14. He was a baby."
The shooting and other incidents in which black students were allegedly attacked prompted a group of parents to file a lawsuit against the New Haven Unified School District claiming that school officials failed to protect black youths from attacks by a Latino gang.
According to Oakland civil rights attorney Pamela Price, who represented the
parents of 12 students, to be split among the students' families.
Price said the same plaintiffs have a similar lawsuit pending against the Union City Police Department, alleging that it also hasn't done enough to protect black youths.
Bay City News Service contributed to this report.
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