As a teen-ager growing up in a San Pedro housing project, Xavier Hermosillo thought being a gang member was cool--until two of his friends were fatally shot as they climbed the stairs to crash a house party. His life was spared because he hadn't gotten out of the car as fast as they had.
The violent death of his friends, combined with a beating by his mother for stealing a 1959 Chevy Impala, made him realize that gang life wasn't for him.
Hermosillo, now president of a public relations and government affairs firm and a resident of West Covina, told his story at a gang summit Wednesday in West Covina.
Officials there are desperately trying to steer other at-risk youths in the same direction Hermosillo took. At Wednesday's meeting--the city's second public forum on gangs--representatives from Montebello and Rowland Heights talked about their successful gang task forces.