By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer

Gregory Najee Grimes, 31, was shot and killed Monday morning in downtown Sacramento. A candlelight vigil will be held in his honor Tuesday, July 5, at 7:00 p.m., at Inderkum High School in North Natomas. Robert Maryland, OBSERVER

Local residents are mourning the murder of Sacramento’s Gregory Najee Grimes, a former Inderkum High School and Boise State University football player, who was shot and killed in the early morning of July 4. 

Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester said Grimes, 31, was pronounced deceased on the scene around 1:51 a.m., outside of a nightclub on the 1500 block of L Street in downtown Sacramento. 

Officials for Sac PD stated that four other males were hit by gunfire, treated at a local hospital, and were all listed in stable condition.  Police say the shooting occurred as people were leaving a nightclub. The circumstances surrounding this incident remain under investigation and detectives are interviewing witnesses. There is no suspect information at this time. 

A candlelight vigil in Grimes’ honor is scheduled for Tuesday, July 5, at 7:00 p.m., at Inderkum High School in North Natomas, his mother said. The school is located at 2500 New Market Drive. 

“It’s really tough right now,” Grimes’ mother Deborah Grimes told The OBSERVER by telephone Monday evening. “We just have to wait until all the information is in. Until then, we just want everybody to remember Najee.”

Derrell Roberts, co-founder of the Roberts Family Development Center in North Sacramento told The OBSERVER that he received the fatal news a few short hours after his death. Grimes worked for the RFDC and was a mentor and leader to area youth.

“He was a teddy bear with the kids,” Roberts said of his working experience with Grimes. “He was a part of our family for about four years. He started as a youth team leader and then moved up to a site coordinator. He was a dedicated individual in the community. I give my condolences to Najee’s family.”

Grimes, who is the father of a 4-year-old child, is the son of Gregory and Deborah Grimes. 

Grimes was a defensive tackle for Boise State Broncos from 2009 to 2012. He was part of a football program that won 49 of 53 games during that era and beat Texas Christian University (TCU) in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl.

Boise State head football coach Andy Avalos posted on Twitter that he coached Grimes during his final year of eligibility. 

“I, and the entire Boise State football family, are saddened to learn about the passing of Greg Grimes. I was fortunate to coach him during his senior season. He was a member of the brotherhood who is gone way too soon. He will be missed,” Avalos tweeted July 4.

Grimes returned to Sacramento and was an assistant coach for North Natomas’ Inderkum High School football team where he had shined as a player. He earned a four-year scholarship from Boise State, one of the first student-athletes from the school to earn an athletic scholarship from a Division I university. Inderkum first opened its doors in 2004.

The Natomas Unified School District stated that Grimes was employed as an instructional assistant at Inderkum High.

“We are saddened by the news of the passing of Greg Grimes,” district officials said in a written statement. “Our heartfelt condolences are with his family and friends, and all the individuals he connected with through his work at Inderkum High School.”

Roberts said Grimes was one of the first mentors in RFDC’s Freedom Schools initiative, a program that serves approximately 640 low-income students. A federal program hosted by the Children’s Defense Fund, the summer program integrates reading, conflict resolution, and social action in an activity-based curriculum that promotes social, cultural, and historical awareness.

Grimes and other RFDC staff traveled to the state of Tennessee for training. There, they learned to be effective leaders and mentors in the national summer program.

“Najee was part of our early crews for the Freedom Schools. The early years,” Roberts said. “So there’s a strong reason why I am disturbed about this. He was doing all this, including taking kids on field trips and Sacramento Kings games. He was showing us that what we were doing was helping the community.” 

The Sacramento Police Department is seeking assistance from the community and is looking for any video evidence that may have been captured during the shooting. 

Sac PD encourages any witnesses with information regarding this investigation to contact the dispatch center at (916) 808-5471 or Sacramento Valley Crime Stoppers at (916) 443-HELP (4357). 

The callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Anonymous tips can also be submitted using the free “P3 Tips” smartphone app.