Suspect arrested in shooting and assault of unhoused individuals


Alex Martin

A homeless camp near Mulberry St. in Chico, CA Feb. 3 2021

Chico Police Department arrested a 16-year-old Early Friday morning on the charge of murdering Guy Steven Vanzant. The police department released a statement stating the juvenile was charged with murder, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

The suspect was sent to Butte County Juvenile Hall.

On the same day, City officials also shut down the Chico Municipal Airport shelter on Friday, forcing its inhabitants to shelter elsewhere. This decision was announced Monday after federal judge Morrison England ruled that the airport shelter accomodations were not adequate.

The shelter was opened on June 25 as a result of the ongoing litigation in the federal case of Warren v. Chico. Eight unhoused individuals who felt that their rights were violated under the Martin v. Boise decision sued the City of Chico. The Martin decision set a precedent that unhoused individuals in the U.S. can’t be evicted from public spaces without adequate shelters for them to reside.

During the Chico City Council meeting on Sept. 7, the majority voted to update city ordinances in response to the current litigation. The revision changed  ordinances to more effectively allow for the removal of unhoused individuals from public city property under the assumption that Chico has adequate alternatives. 

This change in ordinance also defined the Chico airport as an adequate shelter location for over 500 individuals.

The shelter has been criticized since its opening by advocates of the unhoused for its unsuitable conditions and lack of amenities — — beyond water and restrooms. 

The city has not announced new shelter arrangements and has provided no guidance to unhoused individuals regarding alternatives.

Ava Norgrove can be reached at [email protected]

A vandalized sign outside of the city square banning anyone from from loitering late at night. Photo taken Sep. 18 by Ava Norgrove

Ava Norgrove can be reached at [email protected]