It pains Kenneth and Lorraine Penn to drive down East Union Avenue, they said, so they go out of their way not to. On the 600 block of that street, their 25-year-old son, Andre, was shot to death the morning of April 12, 2016.
Tuesday, the day before what would have been his 27th birthday, they spoke at the Modesto Police Department, pleading that anyone with information on his murder come forward.
“Someone out there knows something,” Kenneth Penn said. The person who shot his son is “still in this community, and someone you know could be next. He may have already struck again, we don’t know. We need to find this person and we need to put him behind bars.”
Lorraine Penn said she and her husband moved to Modesto about 30 years ago to raise their family, which also includes Andre’s older sister, Krystle. “Andre was born here, and it just hurts that he lost his life here,” she said.
Penn was shot multiple times about 12:30 that April morning as he walked along East Union Avenue on his way home from the North Point Landing shopping center on McHenry Avenue. The 2008 Beyer High grad and Modesto Junior College student is known to have been at the Walmart store and the White Hawk Lounge in the shopping center that night.
Nothing has been established that connects an encounter at either business with Penn’s shooting, said MPD Detective Mike Hicks, but “there’s a suggestion” that gunman spent time in the area and/or had contact with someone who lived there.
Hicks said he believes more than one person was involved in Penn’s murder. He’s worked steadily on the case for 18 months, looking at surveillance video from businesses and residents, conducting interviews and following leads, the detective said.
The Penns described their son as a good man who loved spending time with his family and friends, enjoyed basketball and didn’t get in trouble or involved with gangs and drugs.
“It appears they just shot him for no reason, in a good neighborhood. Nothing happens in our neighborhood,” Kenneth Penn said, asking how a young man could get gunned down there, just three blocks from home.
“I know this is not going to bring him back,” Lorraine said of their plea, “but the person that did this, it was cold-blooded, it was senseless, and we just need some help.”
Asked about the pain of continuing to live in the neighborhood where Andre was killed, his mother said, “Well, tell you the truth, we bought a house in Florida and we’re looking at moving there. My daughter lives in the house, (but) it’s hard for us to go there until we get closure here.”
Kenneth Penn added, “It’s tragic, it’s horrific, it hurts us to no end, and at the end of the day, life goes on. That’s the harsh reality of this, that life goes on.”
Anyone with information regarding Andre Penn’s killing is urged to call Hicks at 209-342-6132 or Crime Stoppers at 209-521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward. Tipsters may also text information to Crime Stoppers at 274637. Just type “TIP704” along with your message.
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327