The City Attorney's Office filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the 88-year-old owner of a Boyle Heights triplex and her grandson, alleging that gang-related shootings have taken place at the property despite it being "perilously close" to an elementary school.
The Los Angeles Superior Court complaint seeks an injunction and abatement of an alleged nuisance against Esther M. Oregon and her grandson, Manuel Oregon Martinez, both of whom are residents of the Sheridan Street triplex. Martinez, 36, is an "influential member" of a local gang and "attracts and invites other gang members there," according to the lawsuit.
A second grandson, who is not a defendant, also resides there and returned fire on rival gang members with a handgun while standing in the driveway of the triplex in July 2015, the suit states. The suit seeks a court order directing Martinez and other gang members to stay up to 1,000 feet from the triplex. Oregon and Martinez could not be immediately reached.
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The triplex "is perilously close to Sheridan Street Elementary School, which is located directly across the street, only 59 feet away from the property," the suit states. "Prosecutors have filed this nuisance-abatement action in order to intervene before a life is claimed by this gang-related gunfire and other associated gang violence," the suit states.
Oregon is "reluctantly" named as a defendant because, despite being elderly, she is "either unable or unwilling" to stop the problems at the triplex, the suit states. The City Attorney's Office has contacted Los Angeles County Adult Protective Services to alert them that Oregon's caregivers "may be depriving her of services needed to ensure her well-being," according to the complaint.
Oregon has owned the property since 2008 and five gang-related shootings have occurred there during that time, the suit states. She has had to lie on the floor to shield herself from gunfire at least three times, the suit states. Police have seized firearms, including assault rifles, and four gang members have been arrested there, the suit states.
There may have been additional gang-related incidents that went unreported, according to the lawsuit. "The property has a reputation among law enforcement and the community as a major hub for State Street where gang-related nuisance activity regularly occurs and where two rival gangs go to look for retribution," the suit states.