Murky Waters 

Mystery surrounds a sailor's slaying, curbside shrines inspire lionization and occasional retaliation, and Target is a target.

His boat was called Frisco Cat. It was a sleek $600,000 Nor-Tech catamaran, with double hulls that sheared high off the water when he raced it. Although Carlos Guzman loved it, he wouldn't even look at its brand-new paint job recently before he'd played a while with the painter's kids. That's typical of the Antioch resident nicknamed "Los," a father of two himself whom pals call "a true gentle giant."

"I saw Carlos Saturday at Bethel Island," one wrote at Hotboat.com on Tuesday, July 24. "I said hello and he talked to me like I was his friend since birth. He made me feel like I was part of his family; that's pretty special to me."

Hotboaters were reeling because, at 12:30 p.m. on July 23, Guzman was gunned down at a car-stereo shop on the 5100 block of Oakland's International Boulevard, where Frisco Cat was getting a sound-system installed. The shooting appeared deliberate to investigators, but neither motive nor suspect have surfaced.

"Carlos ... would go out of his way to help you," one pal posted. "He went out of his way MANY many times to help me out of a jamb," added another. One remembered Guzman as "a very down-to-earth guy in spite of the big pony-tailed dude look with the awesome machinery." Another mused that when Guzman appeared at races, "you would think it was the President of the United States showing up the way people would snap pictures of him, his rigs and boats." One pal had joshed with him the morning he was killed: "He was giving me shit about the cheap headsets I gave him. ... I still can't believe this. He was a fellow boater and good friend."

"Damnnnnnnnnnnnn I miss him," wrote Poker Runs West. Added DaveO: "This is ripping me apart."

R.I.P.: Three prayer candles, including one invoking Our Lady of Fatima, soon stood against a chain-link fence at Guzman's murder scene, as recorded by "Nic B.," whose photographs of makeshift homicide memorials grace OaklandMM.blogspot.com. He posts his photos sans commentary, except to note that at murder sites, "I've felt a sense that I'm on holy ground, a sacred place where life passed into death." The 82nd Avenue memorial for Byron Richardson, killed April 7, features a Hennessy bottle and a placard reading: "Hated by some loved by many ... fuck the world." Arlondo Ingram's 62nd Avenue site sports fifteen booze bottles and a "God Loves You" balloon. Others boast toys, flowers, shirts — and gang tags, which is why city officials dislike them. In a July newsletter, District 4 Councilwoman Jean Quan wrote: "We have ... no tolerance for shrines because they have become magnets for retaliation." Three killings in the Fairfax/High Street area, Quan noted, were at or related to the shrines. "Please let the police and my office know if a shrine appears in your neighborhood; we make arrangements for police and Public Works to take them down."

Heartache hardware: A group of willfully anonymous Oaklanders has found a subtler way to memorialize. To utility poles near murder sites, they attach Abba-Zabba-sized metal stud-protection plates — typically used in construction to protect pipes and wiring from being punctured by nails or screws. Victims' names are hand-stamped into the plates, whose angled corners are then hammered into the wood. The volunteers hope "to link ourselves with the names of the victims, the associated crimes and locations where we might not normally find ourselves," one tells Apprehension. "We were spurred by a sense of helplessness and hopelessness over the amount of murders that occur in Oakland ... it seems so overwhelmingly sad and catastrophic, but sometimes it's so easy to glance over that sadness while reading the news. So the plates are a very small step to keep us aware ... a small expression of our love for our city and those in it." On July 30, the collective attached a whole month's worth of plates.

Holla: They'll change its name to Caterwaulnut Creek if all this howling keeps up. The city's cops handle shriek-related incidents almost daily. July 18: A curbside argument involves "lots of yelling." July 19: A female is heard screaming behind the National Guard armory; a reckless driver's passenger moons passersby and yells. July 20: Girls are heard screaming by day; by night an unruly citizen at a Heather Drive swim center is "screaming obscenities." July 21: Girls scream on Lincoln Avenue; kids scream on Sierra Drive; a couple screams on Creekside Boulevard. July 23: A car-passenger on Botelho Drive is witnessed "yelling and screaming at people"; on Kit Fox Court a teen is "out of control, digging nails into herself, screaming." July 24: A woman in a Lincoln Avenue business is "yelling and throwing cups." July 25: A concerned party "hears yelling" on Danielle Court. July 27: Seven males are seen "yelling obscenities and rude things at passerbys," and the trouble spreads: During a conference call with a business partner in Alameda, a Creeker hears the partner "begin yelling at someone ... demanding they leave."

A close shave: That's how his scalp stays so silky-smooth. On July 23, a man fled Target in El Cerrito, leaped into a Taurus, and was driven away by a woman. He was tall, thin, bald — and he had just stolen "a large quantity of razors" from the store, according to the report.

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