Slain community center worker had criminal record

The staff member gunned down inside a Western Addition community center Thursday was a convicted felon who had not cleared a background check, authorities said Friday.

Dante White, 22, was shot on the basketball court in the gym at Ella Hill Hutch Community Center while he supervised and played hoops with children.

Roughly 45 children were signed into the center, which is often viewed as a safe haven in a neighborhood plagued by gun violence.

White had an extensive criminal background that stretched almost a decade, which included a domestic violence conviction for which he was on probation.

Ella Hill Hutch Community Center director George Smith said Friday that new employees at the city-funded center regularly go to work before the results of their background checks come back.

The center, which provides job training and placement services along with after school and children's programs, often gives a second chance to people with a criminal past. White had been working at the center for two weeks.

“I had no idea he was on probation,” Smith said. “He didn't do anything wrong. He got shot in the gym. He's a victim of violence.”

However, police say the killing, which was characterized as an “assassination,” draws questions about White's activities outside the center.

Police spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens said White was the intended target of the attack. Gittens said inspectors with the department's homicide division and gang task force, as well as plainclothes personnel from Northern Station are investigating the case.

White's criminal background stretched back more than a decade, when he was a juvenile, and included battery and auto theft.

According to Jim Rowland, who heads the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office's domestic violence task force, White was convicted of felony assault in September 2004 for punching his girlfriend in the face and breaking her nose.

He served four months of a six-month jail term and was also sentenced to three years' formal probation, which includes counseling and regular checkups with the court. Rowland said documents showed White had attended classes as he was supposed to and kept his court dates.

In May 2005, however, White was accused of assaulting and threatening the same woman, but White was not convicted. Prosecutors moved for and won a revocationof White's probation, which sent him back to jail until mid-December and added a year to his probation. Rowland said that since the second allegation, White had adhered to the terms of his probation.

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