A life cut short
Shooting victim had moved off the streets the day he was killed
Travis Robertson hadn’t had an easy life, according to his sister, Angie Baker. The two grew up in an abusive environment, living on and off the streets, in and out of group homes. Robertson suffered from minor cognitive disabilities, which may have been exacerbated by the abuse, she said. But he was making positive changes; things were getting better.
“He was trying to turn his life around and get off the streets,” she said.
For the past three months, Robertson had been living out of a tent. But on Sunday (Oct. 1), with the help of Far Northern Regional Center, which helps people with developmental disabilities, he moved into an apartment on West Fourth Avenue in Chico with his girlfriend and their 7-year-old daughter.
That same day, as he sat on the curb outside his new place looking at his cellphone, he was shot and killed.
“I was shocked. He just turned 32. He just got his own place,” Baker said.
Witnesses told Chico Police Department investigators that a dark-colored SUV pulled up to Robertson and two people got out of the car, approached him on foot and demanded he give them his cellphone. When he didn’t, he was shot—eight times—and died on the grass, feet from his apartment building. Two suspects, 21-year-old Jason Jamar Jackson and 19-year-old Michaela Norman, both of Chico, were arrested shortly after the incident. Both face murder and robbery charges. Jackson is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. They were expected to be arraigned Wednesday (Oct. 4), after the CN&R’s deadline.
“Why would someone ask for his cell and just shoot him?” Baker asked. “It’s shocking.”
According to Evan LeVang, executive director of the Disability Action Center, a local nonprofit that helps the disabled community, the mere fact that Robertson was disabled put him at risk.
“Those with developmental disabilities are much more likely to be victims of crimes,” said LeVang, who did not know Robertson personally.
Chico Police Chief Mike O’Brien called the incident “tragic.” He said Robertson and his suspected assailants did not know each other. Police recovered a nine-shot revolver on the floor of the vehicle Jackson and Norman were driving when they were arrested, along with Robertson’s cellphone.
At the time of the incident, Jackson was on parole, having served 2 1/2 years for his role in a drive-by shooting in Oroville on Christmas Eve 2014. Nobody was hurt during that incident, according to District Attorney Mike Ramsey. Jackson pleaded no contest to his involvement in that shooting—Ramsey said he took the gun from the shooter and placed it in the glove box—and served the minimum sentence under state guidelines, half of his five-year sentence because of good behavior.
Ramsey said Jackson was also a client of Far Northern Regional Center, but did not elaborate on the specifics. Jackson and Norman were being held at Butte County Jail as of press time.