East Palo Alto man still hopes to find brother’s assailants

East Palo Alto man still hopes to find brother’s assailants

By Fariba Nawa
March 28, 1999
Fremont Argus/Oakland Tribune/ANG Newspapers

EDITOR’S NOTE: Unsolved Crimes is a monthly series that profiles cases which remain unsolved in Fremont, Union City and Newark. Police ask residents to call them if they have information about any of these crimes.

Union City — Every day, as Joseph Holland walks past people on the street, he wonders if they are his brother’s killers.

Holland, a resident of East Palo Alto, wants to know who shot to death 27-year-old Peter Holland in his Union City driveway — and he wants to know why. And so do the Union City police. The Holland family put up a $10,000 reward for information leading to the killers, but it has yet to be claimed.

On Feb. 22, 1995, at about 11 p.m., Peter Holland — a convicted drug dealer who had served his time — returned to his stucco home after working out at the gym. His wife was waiting up for him while his two boys, then ages 3 and 7, were sleeping. The 250-pound amateur boxer didn’t get a chance to turn off his car before he was approached by his assailants.

Witnesses to the Clover Street homicide said that two men, who had been lying in wait in a Honda Prelude, argued with Peter and then fired at least four shots, hitting him in the back and thighs. The gunmen drove away, laughing, with their headlights off.

None of those witnesses could identify the killers, said Sgt. Bill Pena, and investigators have run out of leads. Except for the bullets and casings, police do not have any physical evidence to guide their search for the two men.

And Peter Holland’s shady past leaves an unlimited number of suspects, Pena said. Investigators believe Peter Holland, who officially worked at his uncles’ metal polishing shop in San Carlos, may have been trafficking narcotics after serving his prison sentence. Pena said Peter Holland had dealt with organized drug cartels.

“He was no street dealer,” the sergeant said.

His older brother disagrees. He said Friday that Peter Holland was a small-time dealer, and that after serving his jail time, he was trying to improve his life. He was getting a B average in community college, and he was working full-time. He even moved out of East Palo where he grew up to get away from a troubled environment.

But perhaps enemies form his past caught up with him, Holland said. He can’t point a finger at anybody, but he’s hoping somebody out there knows something.

“The way they killed Peter, they have killed before and they will kill again.” Holland said he thinks if one of the men is arrested for another crime, the truth about his brother’s slaying will be revealed.

“I’m hoping one will rat out the other.”

And for anyone who has information regarding the case, he asks that they please come forward.


“They should look at my family and see what we’ve gone through. They ripped us apart. I think about (Peter) every single day.”

Peter Holland was one of 10 siblings. He was a kind, caring person who bought ice cream for all the children on his block, Holland said. But he was also tough.

“He would help you, but if you crossed him he would retaliate,” Holland said. Their parents gave them a moral upbringing and a lot of love, Holland said. But Peter Holland stumbled into the wrong crowd at age 22.

Five years later, when his family thought he had escaped violence, Peter Holland’s life ended.

Holland said he buried his parents and a sister, all of whom died of cancer and the wounds of their deaths have healed. But he is still waiting for closure on this brother’s death.

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