Security Guard at The Alpha Project Shot and Killed

On December 28 Ernie Buchanan, a 44-year-old father of six, lost his life after he was shot near the Alpha Project homeless shelter located on 17th Street and Imperial Avenue in San Diego. Homicide detectives found and arrested Floyd Garrett, 47, and Johnny Lee Hill, 40, for the murder of the security guard. Garrett was found and arrested in Phoenix while Hill was arrested in San Diego, according to San Diego police’s acting homicide Captain Martha Sainz.

Sainz reported that Buchanan was employed as a security guard at the Alpha Project, but it is not believed that his murder was connected with his job at the nonprofit located in the downtown’s East Village neighborhood. The president and CEO of the Alpha Project Bob McElroy explained that Buchanan was on break prior to the attack. Friends of Buchannan describe him as friendly and a mentor for children. McElroy indicated that Buchanan was a good person and employee.

Both Hill and Garrett were identified using footage from smart street lights that are positioned around the city and record both video and other data. With the help of the Phoenix Police Department, Garrett was found and taken into custody. In San Diego the police credit the street light technology as critical in assisting them with solving crimes. However, privacy advocates have voiced their concerns over the technology and the police department’s use of it.

The streetlights cost the city $30 million and were praised for their ability to reduce energy expenditures. The sensors on these lights collect data on a variety of activities in the city such as parking, vehicle count, pedestrian count, temperature, humidity, and air pressure. One year after they were implemented the police added them to their arsenal of tools to help fight crime. According to authorities, these lights helped with over 160 investigations from August 2018 through September 2019. The police use of the light’s technology was not a topic discussed during the planning stages and public meetings and the city did not approve the police’s use of the technology.

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