Reporting Andrea Menniti
STOCKTON (CBS13) – Five months after a Stockton elderly man was murdered in a park for his gold chain, police say a citizen tip may have finally led them to the men responsible.
On Sept. 17, a few days after his 60th birthday, Armando Pina would be murdered at Victory Park on N. Pershing Avenue. Then, a half dozen people came forward to police offering tips about the brazen broad-daylight killing.
“It feels great, ’cause I thought we wouldn’t hear no more. It’s been a long time,” said Pina’s girlfriend Mary Balz.
She is relieved that tipsters are breaking their silence; and urges them to reveal more information.
“Turn yourself in. Stop killing people; stop hurting families,” she said.
Police say tipsters have given them credible leads that the same pair of young men, who shot and killed Pina, may have carried out other killings.
“At that same time, there were four unsolved homicides. So we are going back and revisiting those cases, looking for any direct link or correlation between those unsolved homicides and Mr. Pina’s homicide,” Stockton police Officer Joseph Silva said.
Since only a single person has been murdered so far this year, homicide detectives have the time to look into fresh leads.
“Normally, if they were responding from homicide to homicide to homicide, they would not be able to give their full attention to these tips that are coming in,” said Silva.
Police have solved 44 percent of last years record-breaking homicide total of 71; and Pina’s loved ones hold out hope tips will keep coming and officers will crack the case.
“It’s not going to bring him back; but it would be a relief to know they are off the street, that they are not going to hurt anyone else,” Balz said.
The tips came in through the Stockton Police Department’s Crime Stoppers, which allows citizens to anonymously report crimes.