Originally published in The San Francisco Chronicle, July 25, 2013 | Written in conjunction with Chronicle staff reporter Henry K. Lee; photo by Chronicle staff photographer Lacy Atkins
Judy Salamon, the 66-year-old pet sitter who was shot dead blocks from her East Oakland home, was concerned enough about crime around her to join neighbors who wanted to hire private patrols.
But the main goal was to stop burglars, and her neighbors said Thursday that they couldn’t fathom why a gunman would target Salamon, best known for showering love on dogs and cats.
Salamon was driving her Subaru Outback on the 2400 block of Fern Street in the Fairfax neighborhood when she was shot in the head shortly before 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, police said.
No arrests have been made. Police told neighbors that Salamon’s purse and phone were stolen, but investigators would not discuss details.
Salamon lived a few blocks away in the Maxwell Park neighborhood and was returning home when she was shot.
Mike Martzke, who stopped by a memorial of candles and flowers at the crime scene on Thursday, recalled how he ran into Salamon in the spring as she was walking some dogs and he was heading to a neighborhood meeting.
Martzke said he told Salamon that the meeting was to “talk about getting this patrol thing going” in which security guards would drive through the neighborhood at a cost of 50 cents per day per house. He said she responded, “Yeah, I really want to help with that.”
Police were focusing on a possible confrontation on Fern Street, where investigators recovered empty liquor bottles next to a cemetery. Police would not say if any words had been exchanged between Salamon and her assailant.
At the time of the shooting, Salamon had a client’s dog in her car. The animal was “obviously scared” by the shooting, said David Cronin, interim director of Oakland Animal Services, who reunited the dog with its owner.
“That dog knew that something was going on,” Cronin said. “The woman (owner) started to cry, and the dog started to cry.”
The woman is taking care of Salamon’s Chihuahua, which was found at her home. Another Chihuahua belonging to a client escaped from the home but was picked up Thursday by animal control, Cronin said.
Willing to speak out
Cronin said he spoke by phone with Salamon about a month ago, when she inquired about adopting a dog because “she didn’t like the way the owner was caring for it.”
“She wasn’t unaccustomed to confronting someone and saying, ‘You’re walking your dog aggressively,’ or ‘Your dog is in the car and your car is hot,’ ” Cronin said.
“There are people who are really activists and confrontational, but she wasn’t that type of person,” Cronin said. “When I spoke to her, I found her to be quite reasonable.”
Postal carrier Crismarie Constantine, who delivers mail on Fern Street, said Thursday that she had heard a “pop pop pop” when Salamon was killed.
“Usually I drink my water on this street because of how hilly it is,” Constantine said Thursday while on her rounds. “But I missed it by a split minute. I could have been a part of this situation.”