Saturday, June 23, 2007

Police: Don't jump to conclusions

A Livermore police detective investigating the death of Mercury News journalist Rich Ramirez says the case hasn't been confirmed as a suicide because the evidence so far is inconclusive. On Friday, the Merc posted a story saying Ramirez, who died Wednesday in the back yard of his home in Livermore from a knife wound to the mid-section, had been worried about layoffs at the MediaNews Group-owned paper and upset over an undisclosed incident at a convention of Hispanic journalists he had organized.

(Photo: Ramirez, left, holds up the stack of awards the Mercury News won during at this month's Peninsula Press Club awards dinner. Photo by Paul Sakuma, AP)

"[A]t face value, it does have the appearance of a suicide, but it could be at the hands of another," Detective Jason Boberg told E&P. "There is a definite possibility of suicide, but it is premature to actually call it that. The injuries, while they could be at his own hand, could have been at the hands of another."

Boberg also said: "At this point, that is one of the biggest things under investigation. If it is a suicide, what would be the motive?"

Friday's Merc story did not say what upset Ramirez at last week's National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention in San Jose. One of the convention's speakers, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, made headlines when he urged immigrants to turn off Spanish-language TV in order to learn English faster.

The association posted the following statement on its Web site:
    The National Association of Hispanic Journalists expresses its deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Rich Ramirez. Rich, a veteran journalist and assistant to the executive editor at the San Jose Mercury News, was found dead in his home in Livermore, California on Wednesday. He was 44.

    Ramirez, a member of NAHJ, dedicated many hours to the planning and organization of the 25th Anniversary NAHJ Convention and Career & Media Expo held in downtown San Jose last week. He served as chair of the local planning committee, was considered a key part of some of the logistical planning, and recruited and coordinated the many volunteers on site that helped make the convention a success.

    Members of the shocked NAHJ staff who worked closely with Ramirez before and during the convention said he was always at the ready, no matter the task, with no complaints ever crossing his lips. NAHJ President Rafael Olmeda posted the following response on mercurynews.com alongside the many other comments from readers and the San Jose community that learned of his death.

    “The last time I saw Rich was Sunday, June 17, the morning after the NAHJ convention in San Jose. Rich walked into the NAHJ board meeting before it started because he wanted to thank the board for giving him the opportunity to volunteer for our cause.

    “Imagine that. He took on the role of chairing the local planning committee. He was the ‘logistics chair,’ responsible for making sure everything ran smoothly and that all the pieces of the gigantic planning puzzle fit into a cohesive whole. He was an unsung hero of what was, by all accounts, a successful convention that struck an optimistic tone in an industry that lately has not seen much cause for optimism.

    “And there he was, thanking us for the opportunity we gave him. Naturally, we turned the tables and expressed to him our deep appreciation for the hard work he put into making the convention a success. NAHJ staffers later told me that in one short week, he became an integral part of the NAHJ family.

    “We lost a fighter in Rich Ramirez. We lost a humble man who sought an opportunity to serve a cause that was greater than himself, greater than his own career. We were fortunate to have known him, and we are heartbroken that he is no longer with us.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is truly sad, and I'm sure that all of Rich's colleagues would agree in saying that we wished he had reached out and asked for help. These are difficult days at the Mercury News. Our thoughts and prayers go out to your wife and your loved ones. His presence will be greatly missed.