Tragedy strikes during halftime

Just outside the gymnasium of one of the most prestigious Catholic high schools in San Francisco, the father of a star player for the nation’s top-ranked girls’ basketball team was slain during Saturday’s game.

Terrell “Terray” Rogers, 39, was in attendance at the Sacred Heart Cathedral gym to watch his daughter, Tierra Rogers, a highly recruited junior guard-forward for Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, play in a game against San Jose’s Archbishop Mitty High School.

Witnesses said Rogers left the gym at halftime, reportedly to smoke a cigarette. According to police Sgt. Steve Mannina, Rogers was across the street in the St. Mark’s Lutheran Church parking lot about 8:20 p.m. when two men opened fire and fled on foot. Rogers was hit several times and died immediately in the parking lot. Police are questioning another man who was with Rogers at the time.

“We believe the two suspects targeted the victim,” Mannina said, adding that Rogers’ companion was unharmed in the shooting.

The game continued after halftime, and Tierra Rogers was pulled during the third quarter. With 17 seconds left in the fourth quarter and Sacred Heart with a comfortable lead, officials called the game and ushered the crowd through the back doors. Sacred Heart, the top-ranked basketball team in the country according to USA Today’s Super 25 poll, was given the win to stay unbeaten for the season.

The team’s coach, Brian Harrigan, did not return calls Sunday for comment.

According to Sacred Heart Principal Ken Hogarty, school officials gathered Sunday to figure out how to address the “tragic incident.”

In a statement, the school extended prayers to the Rogers family. “We appreciate the cooperation of all fans, students, families and friends who were on campus Saturday evening who maintained calm while exiting events at their conclusion.”

Tierra Rogers was named to the all-Examiner team last year and is expected to attend a major university basketball program after she graduates. Known to be a quiet but visible presence at each and every one of her games, Terray Rogers was the co-founder of a youth leadership organization called Peacekeepers, which focuses on teenagers from The City’s Alice Griffith Housing Project. He fostered relationships with troubled youths in the program, relating to him through his upbringing at the public housing block formerly known as Double Rock.

Takai Tyler, who heads the umbrella organization for Peacekeepers called Hunters Point Family, said Rogers would help teenagers get involved in positive activities like sports, games and field trips. She called him a “large personality.”

“He was funny,” Tyler said. “He liked to joke around, but he was serious about the work he was doing.”

Besides Tierra, Rogers also had a son.

New year off to a violent start

San Francisco’s homicide count is off to a quick start this year, following a 10-year high of 98 in 2007.

A targeted slaying outside Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory on Saturday night was The City’s fifth homicide of the year. Last week a witness under the protection of the District Attorney’s Office was chased down in the Mission district and executed.

A shooting outside Jelly’s nightclub in Mission Bay that led to the death of Clarence Corbin, 34, is the only homicide of the year in which police have publicized an arrest. On Tuesday, police arrested 23-year-old Mario Hollister in Hercules on suspicion of murder.

Police are still investigating The City’s first homicide of the year, the New Year’s Day shooting of a 26-year-old at Ninth and Folsom streets. Five days later, 16-year-old Torrance Gray was gunned down on a Hunters Point street.

According to numbers at a recent public safety commission meeting, there are currently about 75 defendants in San Francisco Superior Court in connection to homicides occurring in the last three years.

January was a particularly violent month in 2007 with 13 homicides recorded. On Jan. 15 of last year, homicide detectives were busy investigating a bloody three days in which six people were killed. There were five homicides tallied in January 2006.

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