14-Year-Old Shooting Victim Was a Gang Member, Police Say

Anaheim residents are wondering when police efforts to curb gang violence in their community will yield potentially life-saving results.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Police in Anaheim are continuing to investigate the death of 14-year-old Jose Perez, who was fatally shot in a gang shooting late Tuesday. Officials say they're working to eradicate violence in the area where nearly 40 gangs are vying for control. Vikki Vargas reports from Anaheim for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Oct. 17, 2012. (Published Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012)

    The latest round of gang violence in Anaheim claimed the life of a 14-year-old boy Tuesday night. On Wednesday, several of Jose Perez's friends mourned at a memorial where the high school freshman was gunned down during a shoot-out.

    "I mean who wouldn’t be upset? There’s too much wrong in the world," said Pilladillo Hernandez, a friend of Perez.

    The shooting started in a nearby alley, spilled out to Vermont Street and ended in a gun battle in the 800 block of South Claudina Street around 7 p.m. Tuesday, investigators said.

    Detectives say 14-year-old Perez was a known gang member whose stepfather was killed in a drive-by shooting earlier this month.

    Officers have asked Perez's friends to take down the memorial so as not to draw attention to the area. They've also stepped up patrols in the area for fear of retaliation over the fatal shooting.

    Nearly 40 gangs are vying for control of neighborhoods in the area and officials say they noticed more young boys being drawn into a life of violence about four years ago.

    "It’s easier to manipulate a kid who is nine or 10 versus one who is making choices at 14, 15 years old," Anaheim gang officer Ed Arevalo said.

    Arevalo grew up in the barrios of Anaheim. He is now part of the gang reduction intervention program known as “GRIP.” The program uses curfew crackdowns to target underage kids caught roaming the streets at night, and their parents are also held accountable.

    "If we can’t get the parents to focus on the types of things we’re dealing with then it’s a difficult battle," Arevalo said.

    While police tackle the escalating gang violence residents, wondered when the tagging and shooting will end.

    “Like I said, it’s very sad. That’s somebody’s kid," said resident Ricardo Lara. "We don't need violence here. This is a nice neighborhood."