Parks superintendent killed in Northern Calif. park

The gates of Hagan Community Park remained closed Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012, the day after a parks superintendent was found dead in his bullet-riddled car at the park in Rancho Cordova, Calif.
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. — Police on Tuesday arrested a recently laid-off park employee in the shooting death of a parks superintendent whose body was found in his bullet-riddled car in a Northern California park near the American River.

Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Ramos, a spokesman for the Rancho Cordova Police Department, said 47-year-old Dupree Barber was arrested on suspicion of murder for the slaying of Steve Ebert.

Ebert, 59, was the superintendent of the Cordova Recreation and Parks District who oversaw maintenance of 38 parks.

Ramos said Barber had been among 18 parks employees recently laid off and that Ebert had been one of his supervisors.

"Detectives believe that Barber's loss of employment was directly related to his motive behind the commission of this crime," Ramos said.

The parks district offices were closed Tuesday to mourn the death of Ebert and officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

"Steve was a friend and colleague, and a great asset to our community," said David Sander, mayor of the Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova. "I pray for all those affected and touched by this tragedy to find peace and comfort in the hard days ahead."

Ramos said the passenger side of Ebert's car was found riddled with bullets and that Ebert suffered several gunshot wounds to his upper body after arriving at the park before 6 a.m. on Monday.

Police found him slumped over the steering wheel with his foot on the brake while the car was still running in Rancho Cordova's Hagan Community Park.

Hagan park abuts the 23-mile American River Parkway, which runs from Folsom Dam to Old Town Sacramento. The parkway includes the well-known Jedediah Smith Memorial Bicycle Trail, and draws some 5 million visitors each year.

Ramos said Barber was taken into custody after he contacted a patrol officer in West Sacramento and said he believed authorities were looking for him. He said detectives arrived and he agreed to accompany them back to Sacramento County jail for questioning.