Late-night gunfire that injured five people on the Oceano Dunes in early May apparently rang through a crowd gathered for a concert that State Parks has confirmed did not have a permit.
Whether State Parks management at the park was aware of the amplified event before the shooting is unclear. State officials did not answer questions from The Tribune about whether rangers knew of the event or several alleged fights in the crowd that a witness described to KSBY.
“The ongoing investigation of the shooting incident at Oceano Dunes SVRA precludes us from further comment at this time,” spokesperson Gloria Sandoval said.
Last year, State Parks rangers expressed their concern for the public’s safety at parks across the state, and called for more rangers to be hired.
As of March 2019, State Parks employed 442 peace officers. There are 161 vacant positions and the state Legislature recently approved 54 new law enforcement positions, Sandoval said.
If local rangers on duty did know about the concert at the south end of the Dunes, they did not shut it down.
The concert featuring Hayward-based Banda La Peligrosa appears to have been underway for hours the night of May 4 before the midnight shooting. Videos of the performance on Facebook show several musicians including a horn section on a stage with a full sound system erected for the event.
A comment on one video said band members ran when shots were fired. A musician responded, “fuimos a tocar no a que nos balazien,” or “we went to play, not to be shot.”
The band did not respond to The Tribune’s requests for comment.
Law enforcement officers were called to the Oceano Dunes for shots fired at around midnight the night of May 4. Five people were shot, six were hospitalized and all have since been released, according to news releases from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, which took over the investigation from State Parks.
Francisco Orozco, 19, of Oakland was arrested as the only suspect in the shooting. He has since been charged with attempted murder.
In response to Tribune questions about public safety and ranger staffing levels at State Parks, spokespeople for the state agency said shootings in California’s parks are rare.
“California State Parks cares for the safety of all visitors. Our peace officers work closely with the state’s network of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to protect visitors to California’s parks and to provide mutual aid when needed,” spokesperson Jorge Moreno said.
“We appreciate the assistance of the local law enforcement partners in our response to the recent accidents and shooting incident at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. Shootings, like the one that occurred in Oceano Dunes, are rare in California’s parks.”
He said that any people are welcome to use a state park for an event, as long as they “submit a permit application to determine if the event meets the special requirements of California State Parks.
“The permit process also allows the department to determine whether additional local, state and federal law enforcement resources for public safety will be needed for the event so the department can plan accordingly,” Moreno said.
We want to hear from you as we continue to report on this shooting and public safety in California’s state parks. Do you have something to add to the story? Email reporter Monica Vaughan at firstname.lastname@example.org