A San Jose gang member will spend the rest of his life behind bars, prosecutors said.
A jury this week convicted 24-year-old Balam Eugenio Gonzalez of first-degree murder in the deaths of Pedro Cortez on Nov. 23, 2013, and Armando Heredia on Aug. 23, 2012. He was also found guilty of the drive-by premeditated attempted murder of a third person.
Currently, there are 145 documented gangs active in the city of Atlanta according to the Atlanta Police Department. Juvenile gangs have active members as young as 12 years old, while the second group of gangs mostly consists of core members aged 22-26 years.
Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields stated that the most dominating active gang citywide is the group Down For Whatever (DFW), operating from their home base on Joseph E. Boone Blvd, former Simpson Street.
Their members head to Buckhead to break into expensiv looking cars and come back with loot such as guns, electronics, and cash.
Chief Shields wants to go harder after the adult gang members and convince prosecutors to press additional gang status charges against the members when they are caught.
Getting the teen members of the juvenile gangs involved in community servie is an opportunity to get them out of the gangs, the chief believes.
Meeting with members of the Citizens Police Review Board
On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, Police Chief Ken Burton said that a recent spike in shootings and home invasions in Columbia can primarily be attributed to gang and drug activity. Burton explained, “We’re talking under 2% of the population engaging” in these behaviors “and they generate 90% of the crime.”
His statements on gun crime were made when he met with eight members of the Citizens Police Review Board on Wednesday to answer their questions. The CPRB is entrusted with reviewing appeals of Burton’s officer conduct decisions and department policies. The Board members had questions about homicides, a noticable increase in shootings and other gun-related crimes. They also quesioned Burton about recent department procedure changes to hiring and disciplinary actions.
Shootings not random
Most shootings in Columbia are not random. The same groups of people are usually involved – gangs, and drug dealers as well as drugs users and abusers. Burton noted that efforts to solve the crimes have been hindered by “uncooperative witnesses” – people who are afraid that speaking with the police may result in retaliation against them – but police is dependent on the public’s help.
90 homicides have been recorded in Boone County in 2017, with eight of them inside Columbia, an increase compared to past years. According to crime statistics, 6 Homicides were recorded in the city of Columbia in 2016, only one in 2015 and five in 2014.
Why have thefts of guns from vehicles increased?
Burton said – guns disappear from vehicles for the same reason laptops or other valuables do — people leave valuable items, including guns, in cars and homes unlocked.
“I think the bigger question is why are they left out in the first place?” Burton added, also acknowledging, that all guns should be kept in a secured place.
This was certainly the right thing to say one might think in times of increasing high school shootings and nationwide marches to end gun violence, in the schools as well as in the streets and neighborhoods in Columbia and the rest of the nation.
Tens of thousands marched through the streets of downtown L. A. as a part of the March for Our Lives demonstrations happening across the country on Saturday.
Survivors of the Parkland, Florida shooting organized the marches. Organizers are demanding changes in gun laws and an end to school shootings. Some Parkland students traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in the march there.
South L.A. native Edna Chavez was one among many students who spoke at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington D.C. about the gun violence she has experienced in her childhood and delivered her emotional and empowering speech in front of the thousands of students marching for a gun reform on March, 24.
“For decades, my community of South Los Angeles has become accustomed to this violence. It is normal to see flowers honoring the lives of black and brown youth that have lost their lives to a bullet. We need to tackle the root causes of the issues we face and come to understanding of how to resolve them,” Chavez decribed her experiences to the cheering crowd.
“I learned how to duck from bullets before I learned how to read,” the 17-year-old said, whose brother, Ricardo, became a victim of gun violence.
“Zero-tolerance policies do not work, armed teachers will not work. Zero-tolerance policies make us feel like criminals. We should feel empowered and supported in our schools. Instead of funding these policies, fund mentorship programs, mental health resources,” she said.
“This is more than just a march. This is more than just one day – this is a movement,” Parkland survivor Delaney Tarr, 17,said. “Today and every day we will continue to fight for those things that are right – we will continue to fight for our dead friends.”
One person has died after being found shot in a car in Lincoln Heights, according to the LAPD.
The victim was driving a dark gray car around 2:20 p.m. and a female passenger was riding with the victim when two suspects in a light gray car drove by and opened fire.
The victim, a man in his 20s, was shot at Johnson Street and Manitou Avenue. After the shooting the car rolled onto the curb and crashed at the intersection of N. Broadway and Gates Street.
The female passenger was not hurt, the man, however, was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to Los Angeles Police.
The suspects fled and have not been identified yet, according to police.
The shooting appears to be gang related.