Ruby likes the color red. On her day in court, she wore a red sweater and her hair was dyed a reddish color. Ruby (not her real name) is hiding from her former lover Robert Al’C Bejaran, who is charged with two murders. She turned state’s witness and has been relocated. Just a few months ago they were living together.
Ruby first met Al’C Bejaran (she pronounces his first name OWL-see) when he was 15 years old. After he turned 19, he moved in with Ruby, who was in her early 20s. Ruby lived in Oceanside, in a second-story apartment that overlooked Libby Lake Park, an 18-acre stretch of lawn and water about three miles south of Camp Pendleton’s back gate. But their live-in love didn’t last long, just a few months. “Maybe, like, three or four.”
Then, the night of May 3, 2011, around ten o’clock, her neighbors heard gunshots. Two teenagers were found dead in the park.
That morning, Ruby had been at home with Bejaran and an 18-year-old friend named Justin Gibson. “Just chilling, watching TV, drinking.”
The trio was also “smoking weed, pretty much all day.” Ruby told the court that they smoked weed at her house “pretty much every day. The moment we woke to the moment that we went to sleep.”
“Later on that night, Kenny came.” Although she had known him for years, she said 33-year-old Kenny Hamilton came over “once in a blue moon” and had been to her apartment only once or twice before. That evening, “He was showing Al’C the bruises on his back.”
Hamilton said that members of the Mesas, a Hispanic gang, had jumped him.
The three men in her apartment belonged to a gang called Deep Valley Crips, Ruby said. She knew their gang names: Al’C Bejaran is “Baby Payback,” Justin Gibson is “Baby Shakes,” and Kenny Hamilton is “Little 187.” California’s penal code for murder is 187.
Ruby recalled that her boyfriend Bejaran said they were going to “get revenge.”
“He always say he don’t like Mexicans,” Ruby said.
Kenny Hamilton told Oceanside police in an interview later that he had been jumped by six Mesas in Libby Lake Park about a week before the shooting. He said the Mesas tried to stab him, and they beat him with a pipe and left bruises on his back.
Justin Gibson later told police that he had been jumped by Mesa gangmembers once when he was in juvenile hall.
The three men went into Ruby’s bedroom, closed the door, and had a meeting for “about five, ten minutes.” When the men came out, they had put on baseball caps and hoodies. “They were dressed,” explained Ruby.
“They said they were leaving, and I got a little irritated, and I asked them where they were going.”
Her boyfriend told her they were going to go to the park to smoke. “I said, ‘Why would you go to the park to smoke when you’re able to smoke in the house?’ My neighborhood is not the best place for them to be walking around at night because they’re Deep Valley Crips and it’s Mesa territory.”
Libby Lake Park is claimed by the Mesa Locos, a Hispanic gang, according to Oceanside police detective Taurino Valdovinos. Valdovinos said that Brengle Terrace Park, about seven miles away in Vista, is claimed by the Deep Valley Crips, a primarily black gang that police say has about 70 members. “For some reason these gangs pick a park,” the detective said.
The guys were gone between 15 minutes and an hour, and then Ruby heard “running up the stairs.” She came out of the back bedroom. “Went to the door because they were banging on the door. I let them in. They turned off all of my lights, closed all of my blinds. They turned off the television, too.”
“Al’C jumped in the shower.” And the other two men washed their hands. “I heard the water.
“And after the shower, they sat in the living room.”
Hamilton went to look out the window. “He was in my kids’ room looking out the blinds.”
Bejaran tried to clean something off his pants. “He was, like, cleaning them, cleaning the jeans that, the pants that he was wearing. Scrubbing something off it.”
Fernando Solano, 16, and Sandra Salgado, 14, were shot to death in Libby Lake Park that night.
It wasn’t until Ruby was arrested and charged with felony accessory after the fact that she began to cooperate with police. She was worried about losing her apartment, which she called “Section 8 housing.” She complained that it had taken her seven years to get it. And Ruby worried that she could lose custody of her children. She knew what it was like to be in foster care.
Ruby was told she could get three years in prison for accessory after the fact, but if she cooperated, her offense could be reduced to a misdemeanor.
Then Ruby admitted that she’d seen Bejaran with a gun “a few days” before the May 3 shooting. “He had told me that he put it in my kids’ closet. I told him I didn’t want it in my kids’ closet. I told him I didn’t want it in the house.” She described the gun as “Western looking,” with a “wheel” on it. The gun used in the killings was not recovered by police.
A few days after the shooting, Bejaran and Gibson came back to Ruby’s apartment and collected some things they had left behind. “They wasn’t really talking about the clothing — they was just grabbing the clothing.” Another gang member, Tyrone Blackmon, was with them.
Ruby and the men stood around her apartment awhile, smoking weed. “I had made a comment.” She said she spoke to the whole group. “I said, ‘I can understand why the guy, but why the girl?’ And Al’C made the comment, ‘I couldn’t leave any witnesses.’”
Robert Al’C Bejaran, Justin Jamarcus Gibson, and Kenneth Dwight Hamilton are charged with the murders. Police say Bejaran was the triggerman. Blackmon, now 30, is charged with accessory after the fact. All four defendants pleaded not guilty and are next due in court in April.