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Wednesday, 2 May 2012

27-year-old man was shot in the upper torso on a street near Oceanside High School on Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

 The shooting occurred about 1:25 p.m. in the 200 block of South Weitzel Street in the city's Crown Heights neighborhood, Oceanside police Lt. Leonard Mata said. The victim, whom police did not identify, was flown to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla with a wound that did not appear to be life-threatening, Mata said. The neighborhood, which has a long history of gang conflict, has seen a recent surge in gang-related violence, including the slaying of a teenager March 8, and the shooting of one of the resource center's volunteer soccer coaches March 2 within a block of each other. Tuesday's shooting is the third to happen in the one block-radius next to the Oceanside High School ballfields and less than a mile from City Hall. Mayor Jim Wood said Tuesday he was frustrated by the continuing violence in Crown Heights and called on the community to work closer with police to identify problems. "They've got to open up and speak to us," said Wood, a former police officer. "They have to take action, too." Councilman Jack Feller said he wanted to reassure the community "that we're on it." He said that the recent spate of shootings was "a very serious issue," and asked for the public to work with police to stop it. "I would say if they see wrongdoing, please, help us head off these types of incidents at the pass," Feller said. "If they know bad people are operating next door to them, help us ... we need them to help us." Councilman Jerry Kern said he's worried by the upsurge in violence going into the summer. "It seems like the activity over the last few weeks has gone up," Kern said. "It sounds like it's more gang violence. My concern is it will spill over into the general population, that a bystander will get hurt, not that I want to see gang members get hurt. I don't want to see anybody get hurt." Kern said community members have been organizing, trying to find some way to steer youths away from gangs. "Somehow, we've got to stop this before it starts," he said. "I don't know what the solution is. I'm at a loss. I don't know how we get to these young people." Kern said he's attended community meetings, and that the people who live in Crown Heights are frustrated, too. "The community really wants to help," Kern said. "I guess the feeling I have is severe disappointment. It seemed like we were headed in the right direction. I'm just disheartened that it happened again." Neighborhood organizer Ruben Almader said the city, police and residents have all stepped up to address the violence in the Crown Heights neighborhood, but change has been slow. "We ran out of time when the first person got shot," Almader said. "When the second person got shot, we were definitely out of time. And now that the third person was shot, there is no more time ---- we're out." He said the community should resist budget cuts that pull police officers off the streets in the neighborhood. "Letting one police officer go is like letting 600 police go in our neighborhood," Almedar said. "We need as much help as we can get." Blood still stains the concrete outside an apartment complex across the street from the Crown Heights Community Resource Center, where kids were laughing and playing soccer Tuesday ---- even after the shooting. Police did not immediately release information about the circumstances of Tuesday's shooting, and Mata was tight-lipped about any possible motive behind it. Two Latino males in hooded sweatshirts were seen running from the shooting, said Lt. Valencia Saadat, of the Oceanside police SWAT team. Police had not arrested any suspects by late Tuesday afternoon, Mata said. Residents in the Crown Heights neighborhood said they were afraid that the shooting were motivated by racial tension. The victim, residents said, was black. A local leader of the Mexican Mafia prison gang ordered Escondido's rival Latino street gangs to stop fighting amongst themselves and target black people instead, leading to a surge in such attacks, gang members and authorities said last month. Black people, the residents said, tend to be confronted in Crown Heights. The victim occasionally was asked why he was in a Latino neighborhood, said one man who didn't give his name. "They don't want blacks in the neighborhood," said a mother of five who identified herself only as Gloria. The 45-year-old Gloria said that's the word on the street, and she's worried because she looks black, though she isn't. She said she recently moved to Crown Heights, and now her pregnant daughter is afraid to leave the house. "Every other day there's gunshots," she said. "I left from a bad area in San Diego to a worse area."



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