Easter Ends in Quiet Following Good Friday Violence
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ An Easter weekend that began with one of the city’s worst gang-related shootings ended in relative quiet as pastors voiced a flickering message of hope against the violence plaguing their community.
Police, who were instructed to be especially watchful over Easter services, said no arrests had been made in the gang-related shooting that killed one and wounded 12, including a 4-year-old boy, on Good Friday.
At St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church a few blocks from the shooting, the Rev. Paul Banet said his church decided to replace summer Bible school with classes in moral values and tutoring for kids having trouble in school.
The anti-gang activities, Banet said, ″may not have much influence, but, as people say, it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.″ At Vermont Square United Methodist Church, the Rev. Osmond Lindo said he was pleased to learn that two officers had parked their patrol car outside and looked in briefly on his service.
But it is faith, rather than force, that must be the ultimate weapon against gangs, Lindo told his flock.
″The glorious message of Easter is that even the violence of the gangs and the serious drug problem - those problems that seem so immoveable - even these problems are not beyond the power of God to deal with,″ he said.
Neighborhood residents said the official concern about continuing gang violence was long overdue.
″This stuff is going on every day,″ said Ron McKnight, 58, whose 19-year- old son, Rodney, was recovering from seven bullet wounds suffered in the Good Friday attack. McKnight said his son, like most of those wounded, wasn’t associated with gangs.
At Vermont Square Park, a popular drug-sales location, helicopters circled overhead and police maintained a presence. Police have speculated that the shooting, which took place two blocks from the park, stemmed from a turf war between rival gangs vying for control over the park.
The killers fired repeatedly from a passing car, killing Stacey Deon Childress, 20, and wounding 12 others, including 4-year-old Dashawn Holly, who was reported in fair condition at County-USC Medical Center.
Police Chief Daryl Gates responded to the attack Saturday by repeating his declaration of war against gangs, which were blamed for nearly 400 killings in Los Angeles County last year.
Gates said he would boost the number of officers on South-Central Los Angeles streets from 200 to 1,000. He didn’t say when the redeployment would begin.
A police task force flooded the area Saturday night and early Sunday, arresting 175 people for investigation of a variety of alleged offenses and interrogating 619 people, 500 of them believed to be gang members, said Detective Tony Celli.