Police are investigating the stabbing death of a former Amador High School student from Pleasanton — the first victim of a homicide in the city in nearly eight years.
Two suspects were sought in the April 15 killing of Jackson Reese Butler, a 19-year-old man well known within the Tri-Valley area judo community.
"Regretfully, Northern California judo has lost one of our own, Jackson Butler," Team Sacramento Judo posted on its Facebook page. "There are no words to describe a tragedy like this. Team Sacramento will miss Jackson, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Officers found Butler in the Hyatt House parking lot at 4545 Chabot Drive when they responded at 8:20 p.m. to a report of a stabbing.
Butler later died at Eden Hospital in Castro Valley.
Detectives said in a statement that they are investigating the possibility that “drug sales activity” was involved in the killing, but said that had not been confirmed as a motive.
Butler, according to police, was staying at the hotel and went to the parking lot to meet with some unknown people. Butler was stabbed several times during an altercation.
Police described the two males being sought as black and 16 to 20 years old. One was skinny, about 5 feet 6 inches tall, wearing a gray beanie and black sweats. The other was slightly taller, at 5 feet 8 inches, with a medium build and a round face. He wore a black hooded sweatshirt.
Police asked anyone with information to contact Detective Tony Repetto at 925-931-5288 or email@example.com.
Numerous articles online reveal Butler’s history as a top wrestler and judo athlete from his early to late teen years.
In 2009, The Independent published a photograph of Butler when he was 8 years old. Butler and seven teammates with the newly formed Tri-Valley Judo club in Pleasanton had competed in the Winter Nationals Judo Tournament In Southern California.
Butler’s father, Kevin Butler, who was also pictured, did not return a phone message last week.
Billy Vidal, a radio personality at Q102.1 in San Francisco, called Butler’s death “terrible news.” Vidal posted a photograph of his own son with Butler from a few years ago on his Facebook page.
“A young man (from) our judo community by the name of Jackson Butler was taken from us,” Vidal wrote. “His family is one of the kindest and most thoughtful I know. Please keep them in your prayers as our hearts go out to them.”
A judo “sensei” who identified himself as “Tony Judo” on his Facebook page, posted a photo of Butler at 15 when Butler won an outstanding teenage competitor award.
He called Butler “one of the nicest, respectful and great young judokas I ever met.”
“May God watch over Jackson and comfort his family,” he wrote. “And may there be swift justice in finding the pieces of garbage who did this. The judo community all over the United States mourns for this great young man. May he rest in peace. We are all heartbroken.”
The homicide marked the first in Pleasanton since May 7, 2012, when Amy Freeman-Burton, 37, shot her daughter to death and killed herself in their Stacey Court home. The last homicide before that was in 2002.
On April 1, Safewise, a home security provider, released its latest rankings of the safest cities in California. Pleasanton finished 40th.