A couple weeks ago, I wrote about a shooting in South Park. I looked into the incident and wrote about it for my CityBeat column that was supposed to publish yesterday. The paper ran out of space and so my column was pushed back to run next week. However, because of the timeliness of the article, I have decided to publish it here, mostly because the funeral is tomorrow and there is a benefit on Monday that I thought everyone should know about, especially for those who knew Riki and didn't even know it.
With random news of crime hitting the central San Diego area of late, news of shootings and muggings perk the ears of bargoers in the North Park, South Park, and Normal Heights area of the city. When news was reported of a shooting in South Park on December 17, 2007, hearts sunk when the news revealed that one of our own was killed in her own home. The U-T reported that Riki Rene Watkins was shot in her own home by her sister’s boyfriend, 20 year old Andrew Reyna.
Riki was a waitress at Commonwealth Café as well as a bartender at Kadan. In addition to her bartending shifts, she worked as a promoter at the bar, bringing in bands to play the club on 30th and Adams. Watkins’ best friend, Drew Meier, tells the story of what occurred the night of Watkins’ death. “A bunch of friends were out drinking. Riki called me and told me she was having a great time and that I should come meet them, but I couldn’t make it.” According to Meier, Riki and a male friend headed to her home in South Park. Breanna, Riki’s sister, objected to any late night partying because she’d just had her wisdom teeth pulled and just wanted to go to sleep. Breanna’s boyfriend, Reyna, put up a doggy gate in the hallway so the couple could sleep undisturbed. In the middle of the night, the gate fell, and the echo in the house alerted the sleeping couple. He grabbed his shotgun, thinking that Watkins’ unfamiliar male companion might be causing trouble, and threatened him with the shotgun. “The gun isn’t normally loaded,” says Meier, “but there was a bullet lodged in the barrel, and in an instant, the gun went off.” Riki was hit in the abdomen and died instantly. Reyna was taken into custody for suspicion of murder, and is being held until the start of his January 30th trial.
Meier says of the accident, “Nobody hates Andrew. Maybe people will say he shouldn’t have had a gun, but it was legal and registered, and he was only protecting the home. It was a total accident. He loved her and I know every day he is wishing he could just take those moments back.” Riki and Breanna had only moved to South Park from Oceanside about a month before the incident, where Riki worked at About Face Tattoo. Riki was known to be a loving, caring friend and sister. She was taking care of her father’s personal matters as he is in a nursing facility in Canada, and had a distant relationship with her mother, a resident of Oregon. “Breanna has a tattoo that expresses her love of Riki. The tattoo reads ‘my mom, my sister, my best friend’”
Friend and coworker, Heather Wilcox explains that while she and Riki were friends for less than a year, Riki was her rock. “She was the friend I’d call when I needed something-- anything—and I was that friend for her. Whether it was someone to go shopping with, or to bring me coffee during my day shift, or if she needed aspirin at work during her night shift, we were there for each other.” The two met when Watkins began dating one of Wilcox’s male friends. “He wanted me to meet her, and we met at Kadan. It was after 9 pm, and here’s this girl putting quarters in the meter. Later, it became a joke between us that obviously she was a natural blonde.” The friendship endured and it was Wilcox who helped Watkins get a job at Kadan. Sadly now, it is the enduring friendship that has Meier and Wilcox working tirelessly to host benefits to help the family cover burial expenses. A recent benefit at Scolari’s raised over $1600, while another at Bluefoot raised over $400. The main benefit, however, will be a show that Riki booked for her own 26th birthday at Kadan featuring Thee Corsairs and The Embalmers. At the show, taking place on January 7th, donations will be accepted as well as an auction for certificates to local tattoo shops. Chris Healey, owner of Kadan, will also be donating a percentage of the bar tab from the evening.
Services for Riki will be held on January 4th at Eternal Hills in Oceanside. In addition to the benefit at Kadan, a final benefit will be held in Riki’s honor at Hensley’s Flying Elephant on January 11, 2008. For additional information on any of the benefits or services, Meier can be reached via her MySpace page at ms/drewtattoo.