Friday, May 05, 2023

Another day to think, to pause, to ponder.

Panorama of Sycamore Park and the memorial to Karim


A bit over 10 years ago I wrote a blog post that I repost all the time. Entitled "A day to think, to pause, to ponder" it was posted on my dad's birthday and was about the pain of him dying, by suicide, when I was in college. It was meant as a sad, melancholy post but also one about the importance of compassion and how "we can all do a little bit to improve how we treat other." When I reposted this one time a few years ago, someone asked me if I had ever met the "Compassion Guy" who frequented downtown Davis and who had a life's mission of getting people to think about compassion.  I told them, yes, indeed I had and I had talked to him on and off over the years about this topic at or near the farmer's market or at his "Compassion Corner" bench area.

And thus, a few days ago, I was devastated when I found out that "Compassion Guy", aka David Breaux, was the person whose body was found April 27 in Central Park in downtown Davis. He had been murdered. And initial reports indicated that the Police did not have any good clues as to what had happened because there were no witnesses. 

When I found out that this was David I posted a few things to social media because I wanted to make sure people knew that he was a good person, an interesting person, and was not just some random bit of information.

And I am glad I posted this because many people responded to also say that David had impacted them.

For example:

I also posted this to other places, like Facebook, and there I found out that Nat Pearson, who I had known since I was a PhD student at Stanford and he was and undergrad there, had been a first year dorm mate of David's and also had wonderful things to say about him.

I had planned to go visit "Compassion Corner" on Saturday during my regular bike outing to the Farmer's market but alas I could not since I had to go to UC Davis Medical Center for an MRI.

And then late Saturday night our town was hit again.

And soon we found out that the victim was a UC Davis student - Karim Majdi Abou Najm

And this was of course horrific. A second murder in this sleepy town of Davis. And a UC Davis student. And for me, someone who I had multiple direct and indirect connections to. Just horrific.

I decided that some NatureTherapy for me and others might be useful.

And these got some nice responses that indicated they helped some other people out there. And then in the middle of the night we got a phone call and multiple text messages telling us there was a third stabbing.

And despite a shelter in place order the suspect got away

Later we found out that the victim fortunately survived but was seriously wounded.

And all around town and at UC Davis people were justifiably both devastated and scared. So for the class I am currently teaching, we put into place every measure we could to let students NOT have to come to class in the wake of such incidents. And despite UC Davis focusing on only nighttime safety, some of us also understood that students might be afrain in the day time too (with good reason I might add).

That morning I went out for some #NatureTherapy again but this time decided to not go to too isolated a place on campus and went off campus:

I then went to "Compassion Corner" to pay tribute to David. I took some pics and posted them.

And also made a video panorama

A few other pics from the memorial

Then on May 3 there was an extended period where we heard helocopters overhead. I took some pics and found out one was from KCRA.

Turns out, they were watching overhead as police were questioning a person of interest who had been caught near Sycamore Park and was eventually broungt in to be interviewed.

Meanwhile, a fund had been set up in honor of Karim and I donated to it and suggested other do so too.

This was when I found out that Nadine Yehya, who I knew from various science communications functions and from Twitter interactions was Karim's mother.

I went back out for more #NatureTherapy for myself and to share

And I then went to the memorial for Karim in Sycamore Park and tried to get some nice pics there.

And I also did some iNaturalist observations with the goal of setting up a project in the area in honor of Karim.

And then later in the day we found out the promising news:

And important comment from Nat Pearson

I responded to it:

And also noted that I had started making iNaturalist observations there too:

And some additional details stated trickling out

And that is how we get to today.

I note - I went to see if there was anything in terms of public displays at the site of the third stabbing but did not see anything. The woman who was stabbed is Kimberlee Guillory and I would like to at some point also pay tribute in some way to her. 

At the memorials sites for David and Karim, I took a bunch of nature / landscape pics and also posted observations to iNaturalist.

Basically, I want to make sure that people do not forget Karim and David. They were wonderful people. They were taken from us too soon in a terrible way. But we can get some good out of this. And I will try my best to contribute to that.

A few other pics from the memorial to Karim

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