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Getting at Heart of Violence

November 29, 1987

The drive-by shootings and gang-related violence that recently flared up again in Santa Ana appear to have subsided, at least for now.

That may be due to the increased police presence that followed the senseless shootings in recent weeks that have brought to seven the city's suspected gang-related deaths thus far this year. Victims include innocent non-gang members like Abel Jiminez, who was brutally shot to death as he sat in his car outside his home talking with his wife about what to name the child they were expecting.

Maybe the current calm was influenced by the words of a priest at the funeral of 13-year-old Enrique Arceo. Arceo, along with Jesus M. Perez Jr., 17, was killed by shots from a passing car as he rode his bicycle home from a church carnival. Father Paul Goni told about 100 Latino youths who came to mourn their friend that Enrique needed to speak to them, and "the echo of his voice is saying 'What you are, I was. What I am, you will be.' "

The fact remains that innocent people still live in fear of their lives, nervous about every passing car. Police presence, vigorous prosecution and funeral eulogies may help, for now. But the long-range answers, tough as they are to come by, must be pursued with a community commitment to prevent gang violence by providing jobs, diversion activities and, as Santa Ana police are doing, teaching young people alternatives and how to resist peer pressure before they become hardened loyal gang members.

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