On March 7, 2009, Clayton Police Chief Dan Lawrence was finishing up a Saturday morning round of golf at the in Walnut Creek when his cell phone rang.
He was told there had been a murder in Clayton. He immediately left the golf course.
Monday marked the two-year anniversary of the fatal stabbing of Raymond Casso, a 73-year-old Clayton resident, at the in Clayton. Police say Shannon Bradley Moore stabbed Casso, a fellow customer, to death because he was upset that he couldn't sell stamps back to the post office. Moore was apprehended minutes later, down the street near .
"Unfortunately, the victim was just at the wrong place at the wrong time," Lawrence said.
Homicides in Clayton are extremely rare. It's the only murder case this century and although it happened two years ago the case isn't closed.
Moore, 39, has yet to stand trial. Defense and a court-appointed doctors are evaluating whether he is fit for trial. They will submit their reports to the court April 11, according to the Contra Costa district attorney's office.
The day Casso was killed is remembered well by many Clayton officials and residents.
Lawrence recalls arriving at the post office from the links and realizing that his department didn't have jurisdiction for the crime. Because the killing happened inside the post office, which is the property of the federal government, Postal Service police officers were in charge of the investigation.
Clayton police initially supported Postal Service investigators by securing the crime scene.
"I remember the victim's cell phone was in the middle of the crime scene and kept ringing," Lawrence said. "It would ring, then stop and then ring again and stop. Well, it was the victim's wife calling ... later in the day I helped deliver the message that her husband was deceased due to murder."
owner Steve Barton said, "I don't want to say it's like the Kennedy assassination, but it's just one of those things where you remember what you were doing when it happened." Barton said he was working at the bar when someone came in and said, " 'Oh my God, someone got stabbed at the post office.' "
"It was shocking," he said. "It's totally not Clayton. Like a couple weeks before, we were voted one of the Top 10 safest cities in the country."
Ed Moresi, owner of Ed's Mudville Grill and , would see the victim at his restaurant occasionally and said "he was a really nice fella."
"We can be a little Shangri-La out here sometimes so when something like that happens it's a shock," Moresi said. "But the community really supported JoAnn (Casso's wife) after the tragedy."
Lawrence said that even though Clayton is a relatively safe town, it's not immune to violent crimes.
"People who live in Clayton believe they live in Mayberry or the Land of Oz but no matter where you are you need to be aware of your surroundings."
Officials at the Clayton U.S. Post Office declined to comment for this story.