CARMICHAEL, Calif. — Family, friends and neighbors are mourning what they call the tragic and senseless loss of a husband, father and grandfather who neighbors say would do anything to protect them.
James Raleigh, 74, was allegedly attacked by a homeless man Wednesday.
The man, identified by police as Darin Chastain of Sacramento County, is in custody on suspicion of homicide while the victim's family is trying to come to terms with what happened.
"Probably the most caring guy you could ever have in a neighborhood. Everybody knows Jim. People drive by, they don't even live here and everyone knows Jim. This one hurts," said neighbor Shana Lathrop.
She witnessed a homeless man, who she says was acting erratically, attack the retired plumber Wednesday.
"[He] comes out of his house with a flashlight saying 'hey man what's your problem?' It was so fast. The guy just went after him immediately, said 'you're my f'in problem,' and charged at him. I'm screaming bloody murder," said Lathrop.
She relayed details of the scene to a 911 operator as it happened.
"I said 'he's going to kill my neighbor.' And the scuffle continues. The man finally runs off. It was a four-minute total nightmare," said Lathrop.
Lathrop says Raleigh said a couple of words, collapsed and later died after police arrived at the scene.
The Raleigh family is still in disbelief and sent us this statement.
"James grew up and was raised in the Carmichael community which he loved and called home his entire life. James was a pillar of the community and focused his life on building strong friendships in all of the lives he touched. James will forever be missed but most importantly loved."
Lathrop echoed the family's message as she fought back tears.
"We just want everybody to know what a special guy Jim was," said Lathrop. "As far as we're concerned, he died a hero."
The president of the Carmichael Colony Neighborhood Association says they are working with county officials to address issues with homelessness and housing in their area. They will meet again next Wednesday.
Lathrop says she and others plan to attend a community meeting 6 p.m. Thursday at the Mission Oaks Community Center to search for solutions.
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