More than four years ago, Raul Rodriguez got in a fight, and it ended in his death.
Gainesville Police Department detectives still are looking for an answer.
Around 4:40 a.m. on May 28, 2006 — Memorial Day — Rodriguez and roommate Jose Espinoza decided to walk outside of their Lanier Terrace Apartment on Summit Street to smoke cigarettes after drinking together. Then Rodriguez was approached near the C unit building.
“Based on the investigation, a black female walked outside and said something to him, and then a black male walked up and began an argument with the two of them,” said Det. Dan Schrader. “No one knows where they came from.”
During the argument, Rodriguez, 23, and the man fought.
“They went to the ground, and a gunshot went off,” Schrader said. “Then he ran in front of the D unit, where he stopped.”
Espinoza, now 51, chased the man and got shot. His wound wasn’t life-threatening.
“The guy ran east down the sidewalk,” he said, tracing his finger along an electronic map that detectives created for the case.
Espinoza called police, and investigators arrived minutes later. Although Sgt. Chad Ford, an investigator at the time, spoke with people on the scene, no positive leads came up. He interviewed possible suspects, but no links were found.
“It’s unfortunate that it occurred, and we believed then and still now that someone knows,” Schrader said. “Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.”
The apartment complex, located just off Jesse Jewell Parkway, is next to Fair Street International Baccalaureate School and the Boys and Girls Clubs office. The crime scene hasn’t changed much, but police haven’t closed the case.
The early to mid-1990s was a violent time in Gainesville’s history. There were eight murders in 1995, and nine murders the previous year. In recent years, Gainesville and Hall County have averaged two or three murders a year.
Rodriguez’s death was the police department’s last murder mystery. The 13 homicides that have occurred in Gainesville and Hall County since then, including a shooting last month on Patterson Drive, all have been cleared with an arrest or arrest warrant.
“There was no real reason listed in the investigation for why this altercation occurred,” Schrader said. “I can’t really go into what my own theories are.”
Schrader couldn’t reveal more details about the still pending case, but he hopes someone will “man up” and talk.
“People said they heard shots, but nobody said they saw what happened,” he said. “This would be nice to close for the family.”