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Rugby club to pay tribute to slain architect Graham Downes

SAN DIEGO – Friends who played rugby with famed architect Graham Downes, who died Sunday at age 55, plan to honor him on Saturday between matches.

The tribute is being organized by the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (OMBAC) rugby team, of which Graham Downes was once a member and a player.

Short speeches will be given at 1 pm Saturday the Little Q in the old Chargers practice field at the southwest corner of the Qualcomm Stadium parking lot at 9449 Friars Road in San Diego.

In lieu of the usual $5 admission charge, OMBAC will be asking for a $5 donation that will go to start the Graham Downes Scholarship Fund. For more information, contact Jon Hinkin at 702-267-8354 or at Jhinkin@usasevens.com.

Downes was known for his work on the Hard Rock Hotel, Bali Hai restaurant on Shelter Island, Tower 23 Hotel, Palomar Hotel, Charlotte Russe, Hivehaus, and other urban transformations in East Village and Barrio Logan.

On Sunday, Downes died of injuries sustained late last week when he was assaulted outside his home in Bankers Hill, according to his company. Downes’ skull was fractured in numerous areas, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Higinio Soriano Salgado, 31, an employee of Graham Downes Architecture, was charged with attempted murder prior to Downes’ death, and prosecutors said they plan to charge him with murder.

On Tuesday, Salgado was arraigned in San Diego Superior Court on the attempted murder charges and he entered a plea of not guilty. A conviction on this charge would come with a sentence of nine years in state prison.

Salgado remains in custody with bail set at $3 million, according to the DA. He has a status hearing set for Friday, April 26, when the DA plans to add the murder charge. A readiness hearing has been set for May 29 and a preliminary hearing for June 11.

Police responded to a call of two men fighting on Juniper Street early Friday morning, and found Downes lying on the ground unconscious with severe head and facial injuries. Witnesses said Downes had been hosting a party at his home at the time of the attack.

Graham Downes’ company released the following statement after the suspect was arraigned on Tuesday:

“While we are deeply saddened by the painful and tragic loss of our founder, Graham Downes, we are very thankful for the hard work of the San Diego Police Department and will continue to support their investigation. We also continue to be grateful to the San Diego community for the love and support they have shown all of us at Graham Downes Architecture and BLOKHAUS throughout this challenging time. Graham was a brilliant designer and creative visionary, as well as a vivacious, strong and kind leader. We are actively working to continue his vision through the work of Graham Downes Architecture.” – Alix Veen, CFO, BLOKHAUS