Six people were killed and four were wounded this weekend in drive-by shootings and suspected gang violence in southern Los Angeles County, officials said.
Four of the fatal shootings occurred in South Los Angeles, while one was in Compton and the other in Lynwood.
Meanwhile, the Community Youth Gang Services Project this week is officially starting its second drive to persuade members of more than 40 gangs in the South-Central and coastal areas of the county to sign truces. The peace pledges would extend through Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday--Jan. 15, said Steve Valdivia, the agency's executive director.
Valdivia said his organization, headquartered in East Los Angeles, faces an exceptionally tough campaign in South-Central Los Angeles, where gangs battle over a lucrative drug trade. More than 40 field workers will try to negotiate treaties enabling rival gang members to enter each other's turf without reprisal, or nonaggression pacts through which gangs pledge to stay in their own territory and not seek trouble with other gangs.
'Try for a Peace Treaty'
"All we can do is say 'Look, we're going to try for a peace treaty,' just to keep the numbers (of gang-related killings) down, to save another life, to try to reduce the trend," Valdivia said.
Police and sheriff's officials gave these accounts of the weekend violence:
A 35-year-old man, whose name was withheld, died after he was hit by bullets fired from a car at 82nd Place and Towne Avenue early Sunday morning. No suspects were in custody.
Darrell Lamar Ross, 24, died two blocks away on 84th Place after he was shot Saturday by youths in passing cars. Two other men were wounded.
A 21-year-old man who was talking with friends on a sidewalk on nearby East 49th Street was the victim of another fatal drive-by shooting Saturday night. The victim, whose name was withheld pending notification of his relatives, was associated with known gang members. There were no arrests.
To the south on 93rd and Belhaven streets, Michael Boldin, 25, died after being hit by gunfire from a passing car Saturday evening. Two other men on the street with Boldin were wounded.
In Lynwood, Jerome Thrash, 16, of Compton, was shot to death Saturday night when two groups of youths fought at a party. There were no arrests.
Donna Brown, 16, of Compton, died Saturday after she was shot in the head as she stood on a Compton street corner.
Gang membership in Los Angeles County is increasing, with more than 500 street gangs and more than 50,000 members, officials estimate. This year, there have been 70 gang-related homicides in areas patrolled by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies, 11 more than in all of 1986. In the City of Los Angeles, there have been 154 gang homicides through September, up 14.9% from last year.
The Community Youth Services Project claims to have been the catalyst in the signing of 21 peace agreements and nonaggression pacts in 1986 between 44 mostly Latino gangs in East and Northeast Los Angeles. The pacts officially lasted through the holiday season, but more than 60% of the signees have continued to observe the agreements, Valdivia said. Church and parents assisted in the peace plan.
Valdivia said last year's pacts were monitored by the Los Angeles Probation Department, which uncovered only one violation--an incident in which a gang member was killed.
In East Los Angeles, gang killings dropped from a high of 24 in 1978 to four last year. The sheriff's Operation Safe Streets unit has done extensive work in the area, but Valdivia said his program helped reduce last year's total.
Los Angeles Police Lt. Dan Cooke said such efforts are effective, if only temporarily.
"Anything that can reduce the number of homicides is greatly appreciated," Cooke said Sunday.
Field workers began negotiating this year's agreements about two weeks ago, but the big push starts this week, Valdivia said. Several nonaggression agreements have already been reached, he said.
"In any gang there's always someone interested in peace; we have just got to find those people," he said. "If we get one gang, that's one more than we had before. So we're going after it."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.