Community responds to arrest of teens

Colfax students face charges in rock toss incident
By: Gloria Beverage, Gold Country News Service
-A +A
Residents expressed both frustration and sadness over the arrest of three teens believed to be responsible for critically injuring a Sacramento man on July 26. Early Thursday morning officers from the California Highway Patrol officers from the Gold Run office arrested Colfax residents Hunter Perez, 16 and Sean Steele, 17 and Grass Valley resident Samuel Quinlan, 16. Officers simultaneously arrested the teens at their homes around 7:15 a.m., reported Todd Kettwig, spokesman for the California Highway Patrol. The teens, who are being charged as adults, are facing eight felony counts, reported Art Campos, spokesman for the Placer County District Attorney’s Office. The Journal is releasing the names of the juveniles because of the seriousness of the offense and because they are being charged as adults. They are suspected of throwing a small boulder off the Canyon Way overpass around 2:30 a.m. on July 26. Jose Palomera, 48, was injured when the boulder struck his vehicle’s windshield and smashed into Palomera’s face crushing his jaw and fracturing several bones in his face. He was transported to Sutter Roseville Trauma Center where he underwent surgery to put a metal plate in his jaw, which has been temporarily wired shut. According to a July 29 story in the Colfax Record, the teens were up-and-coming star players for the 2010 Falcons’ football team. Perez, who also goes by Owens, had been a 1,000-yard rusher for the Falcons JV football team last season. Coach Tony Martello would not discuss the youth, but simply expressed his sadness over the impact of their arrest. “This whole thing is really, really tearing apart a lot of things right now,” Martello said. “Put yourself in the place of the mom or dad of these kids. It’s tearing these families apart. Nothing good will come out of this.” Dennis Kocher, a former law enforcement officer and Lake of the Pines resident, believes the courts should consider requiring the youth to do community service projects on behalf of the victim. “While the kids did a very stupid thing and this man sustained terrible and long-lasting injuries,” Kocher said, “I’m hoping the courts do not charge these three juveniles with felonies and ruin their lives.” The victim, who is pastor of First Free Church in Sacramento, said Friday he’s feeling “pretty good, so-so.” His son, Jesse, indicated that although his father’s face is beginning to look normal, the inside of his mouth is “terrible.” “He’ll have a big scar,” Jesse Palomera said. While the California Highway Patrol initially believed a group of four or five individuals was involved, they have completed the investigation and turned it over to the Placer County District Attorney. “Based on what we have, there will be no more arrests,” said Kettwig on Friday. During the investigation, he continued, officers followed leads and talked to more than 25 people. The Placer County Sheriff’s Office assisted in collecting and processing evidence. The teens were booked into Placer County Juvenile Center and each is being held on $150,000 bail. It is unknown if they had been released on bail At their arraignment at 1 p.m. on Monday, they will face charges of one count of conspiracy, one count of battery causing serious bodily injury, three counts of assault with a deadly weapon and three counts of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, Campos said.