By Evan Solano
This article was updated on April 2 at 3:30 p.m.
As plans for an upcoming vigil to mourn the killing of a woman and her dog last week at Lone Hill Park have been announced online, city officials released a statement saying the killings were not a result of a homeless individual.
A March 31 press release from City Manager Chris Constantin explains, “the suspect involved in this senseless act appears to be a resident of a San Bernardino County city and not a homeless individual.”
On March 25 at approximately 1:35 p.m., Jeanne Ann Edgar, 66, from Glendora, was walking her dog Sashi around Lone Hill Park when the suspect, Ricardo Saldivar, 23, from Upland, spotted Edgar and attempted to take her dog. He then proceeded to stab the dog and the woman. Upon seeing this, a first victim, Joe Cohen, who was initially able to escape Saldivar, knocked the suspect out with a rock. Saldivar was taken into custody and transported to a hospital for treatment of head injuries. Edgar and her dog were pronounced dead at the scene.
Saldivar was charged with murder, attempted murder, animal cruelty and other felonies on Monday. Saldivar is due to appear in court on May 11 at the Pomona Courthouse. There is no clear motive as to what spurred the attack.
The seemingly random slaying has sent shockwaves around the community, with residents speculating online and through social media that this incident was a result of an uptick in people experiencing homelessness across Los Angeles County and the state.
Constantin’s statement repudiated those claims.
“There have been multiple social media postings, including some from local news outlets, identifying the stabbing suspect as being homeless,” Constantin said via press release. “This is not the case.”
Constantin said that cities such as San Dimas are seeing increasing unsheltered individuals throughout the community. “There are many stories and causes for homelessness, and we must as a community do our part to assist those willing unsheltered individuals to become productive members of the community,” he said.
Since last Thursday’s incident, residents on the neighborhood social media site Nextdoor have been ascribing blame for the killing on a range of issues, from homelessness, to recycling centers, to the California Supreme Court’s recent decisions to curtail cash bail sentencing as well as the sweeping reforms from Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón’s office.
Constantin’s statement cited the passage of state laws “decriminalizing multiple crimes” and “realigning state prison populations to local jurisdictions such as Los Angeles County, forcing counties to release criminals back to the streets.”
“Law enforcement is hamstrung in many ways, but we as a City are committed to utilizing every reasonable tool to provide law enforcement the ability to safeguard this amazing community,” Constantin said.
Addressing the issue of homelessness was at the forefront of Constanin’s statement, which also detailed reports of a homeless individual who was discovered behind the Martin House and pronounced dead by authorities. The death is not connected to the slaying at Lone Hill Park.
“No evidence of foul play was presented, and the loss of any community member is tragic and a time to reflect on what we can do to prevent avoidable deaths is at hand,” the statement reads.
Councilmember Ryan Vienna, through his public Facebook page, confirmed the death and also mentioned that he and Constantin have since met with Mayor Emmett Badar and Sheriff’s Captain Walid Ashrafnia to discuss the growing issues facing residents.
“Public safety is our top priority and we will address the communities [sic] concerns,” Vienna posted on his page.
Constantin’s statement states that city officials are working internally to address concerns regarding homelessness and “the nuisance impacts of commercial activity, such as local recycling centers.”
“Further, for those who willfully intend to negatively impact our community, we must take appropriate and swift action to protect the rule of law and this incredible community that has become a gem in the San Gabriel Valley,” the statement reads.
Residents have created a new Facebook group called Neighbors of Lone Hill Park Community Watch to keep community members informed about updates and happenings around the park. There will also be a series of self-defense workshops called Fierce Not Fears from April 7-11 for seniors, women and children, taught by local karate dojo owners Shelly Debin Toland from Red Dragon Karate and Don Frack from Martial Arts Innovations.
A candlelight vigil for Edgar and her dog has been planned for Sunday, April 4 at 6:45 pm, at the corner of Shellman Avenue and Renwick Road, where a portion of the street will be closed to traffic. Residential vehicles will have access.