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Rancho Cordova hosts community meeting on Emma Roark killing

"That could have been anybody's daughter, anybody's granddaughter," said Rancho Cordova resident Diana Burdick, who attended the meeting with questions for police.

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. — Resident in Rancho Cordova say they are still in shock over the brutal killing of 20-year-old Emma Roark by a homeless man near the American River Parkway, a popular recreation area.

City leaders and law enforcement welcomed dozens of residents to a community meeting at the Cordova Neighborhood Church Thursday to answer questions and settle concerns. Rancho Cordova Police Chief Brandon Luke said the city is still a very safe community.

"But on this day, Emma fell victim to evil," Luke said. "This was evil, and evil reared its head, but this is an isolated incident to the city of Rancho Cordova. This does not define what Rancho Cordova is about."

Diana Burdick has lived at her home in Rancho Cordova for more than 30 years. She attended the meeting Thursday, voicing her concerns.

"We all feel horrible about Emma Roark, that could have been anybody’s daughter, anybody’s granddaughter," Burdick said.

But Burdick, like many other community members, came with questions for police and city leaders about what they planned to do about the crisis of homelessness growing around the region and along the American River Parkway. 

"You can't just sweep them under the carpet and say, 'just move them,'" Burdick said. "You have to do something. We have to help them," she said. 

City Manager Cyrus Abhar said the city is trying to find compassionate ways to help the homeless, house them and connect them with their families. Chief Park Ranger Leonard Orman, with Sacramento County Regional Parks, said his office was making efforts to hire more rangers to be on the parkway. 

Discussions grew heated at some points, with one neighbor shouting, "We've put people on the moon, but you can't fix the homeless problem!"

Others urged compassion. 

"Have compassion for the fact that these people are for the most part good people," another man said. 


Watch | Arrest made in death of Rancho Cordova's Emma Roark

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