SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Co-workers showed their support Thursday for a parks superintendent who detectives say was killed in a retaliation murder by a former employee.

The suspect, Dupree Barber, made his first appearance in Sacramento County Superior Court on Thursday. His arraignment hearing was postponed until Feb. 16 at the request of his public defender.

Investigators believe Barber, 47, shot and killed Steven Ebert, 59, the superintendent for the Cordova Recreation and Park District after Barber lost his job.

Ebert was found early Monday morning slumped in his vehicle at Hagan Community Park with several bullet wounds to his upper body. Barber turned himself in the next day.

Co-workers say it’s still hard to think about all that’s happened.

“It’s not something you ever think would happen,” said Kathy Spindola, the district’s landscape contract supervisor who was in court Thursday. “I would have to say, though, that when it comes down to it, I’m not surprised.”

Barber filed a lawsuit in 2009 against the district that named Ebert and accused him of racial discrimination. He was one of 18 employees laid off about two weeks ago because of budget cuts at the district.

The district posted the following message on its website mourning the loss of Ebert:

“The Cordova Recreation and Park District is grieving the loss of our employee and friend, Steve Ebert. Steve was senselessly attacked and taken from us on Monday, January 23, 2012 as he arrived to work. Although we mourn and struggle with our understanding of this tragedy, we honor Steve and fondly remember the incredible person that he was. Steve was a tremendously humble, hard-working, caring man. It was so evident to all who knew him how much he loved our parks and our community.

His thoughtful and supportive nature endeared him to all of us. Always ready with a helping hand and encouraging word, Steve was an eternal optimist who truly cared about people and went above and beyond to serve the District and make things better.

We extend our sincerest condolences to his wife, family, and friends and we offer them our support during this unimaginably difficult time. We hold Steve close to our hearts and are grateful that we were blessed to know him.”


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