‘Incense Man’ killed in Ocean Beach; SDPD searching for suspect
Published - 07/03/17 - 04:27 PM | 2804 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A makeshift memorial was set up at the electrical pole near where Walter Riley, known as “Ras” or “Incense Man,” was stabbed to death. / Photo by Thomas Melville
A makeshift memorial was set up at the electrical pole near where Walter Riley, known as “Ras” or “Incense Man,” was stabbed to death. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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Walter Riley, known as “Ras” or “Incense Man,” was stabbed to death June 22 on the sidewalk at 1900 Bacon Street, near where he often stood and sold sticks of incense.

At 12:28 a.m. on that Thursday morning, the San Diego Police Department Communications Center received a 911 call regarding a male attacking another male. The first San Diego Police Officers to arrive found the 65-year-old Riley lying on the west sidewalk with trauma to his torso.

Officers began life saving measures and the victim was transported to UC San Diego Hospital. Despite life saving measures, Riley died at the hospital.

The suspect fled the scene on foot before police arrived. He was described as a white or Hispanic male, wearing a white or gray hooded sweatshirt, and baggy blue jeans. During their investigation, detectives obtained video footage of the suspect from a nearby business located on the 4900 block of Newport Avenue. The footage shows the suspect walking toward 1900 Bacon Street shortly before attacking Riley.

Detectives are asking for the public’s help in identifying the male. Anybody with information is encouraged to immediately call the Homicide Unit at 619-531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.

Riley was homeless and frequented the Ocean Beach neighborhood. A tall, slender African American, with a graying beard and a deep soft voice, Riley could be seen most evenings on Newport Avenue near Bacon or Cable streets wearing a backpack and dark hoodie, and holding sticks of incense in his left hand.

“I can’t believe anyone would want to kill him,” said Ocean Beach resident Thomas Melville, who is editor of the Peninsula Beacon. “He was always super nice when I would buy incense from him. Sometimes it was five sticks for a $1, other times seven, or 10. He would laugh about it as he counted them out. It’s awful he was brutally attacked like that. It’s tragic.”

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