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'The World of Fear' : A 12-year-old is accused of killing a Monrovia store owner over a bicycle. : A 14-year-old allegedly pushes an elderly woman out of a moving car he's trying to steal. : Two students have been shot and killed at Los Angeles high schools this winter. How has so much violence affected the way young people view life and death? Times Staff Writer Gary Libman queried students at Foshay Junior High School near the Coliseum and at Beckford Avenue School in Northridge. Times Staff Writer Michael Quintanilla talked with two teens, Anthony and Tina, who say they have tried to kill others.

March 18, 1993|Gary Libman | Times Staff Writer

At Foshay Junior High School, The Times talked to seventh-grader Consuela Cooper, eighth-graders Jackeline Gonzalez and Gerri Washington and ninth-graders Jimmie Baldwin, Guadalupe Bermudez, Luis Avalo and Cesar Infante .

Q: How do you feel about all this recent violence?

Consuela Cooper, 13: Sometimes I feel scared to go to school. They said the boy (at Fairfax High) had a gun in his backpack and it went off. I never know when I could be sitting next to someone and it goes off.

Cesar Infante, 15: It's disturbing. It didn't used to be every day that you'd see a kid with a gun or a kid killed. Now it feels like it's every day. . . . I'm worried that it could happen here.

Luis Avalos, 15: I've heard about a lot of incidents, but I've seen only one gun. I've seen a lot of knives.

Q: Have you heard about the situation in Monrovia, where a 12-year-old is accused of killing the owner of bicycle store?

Jimmie Baldwin, 14: "I heard it on the news. I thought it was terrible for a kid at that age to find a gun and . . . shoot someone at a bicycle shop just for a bike. . . .

"It really made me sad. That owner may have had a family. I think the kid should be punished. . . .

"I don't know what the kid was thinking of. I think it was pressure from his friends to (make him) go do that. I guess he tried to act manly and pull the trigger."

Q: Do you feel any safer walking around your neighborhood--or in school?

Consuela: School is safer than the streets.

Guadalupe Bermudez, 14: Not any more.

Q: How do you feel about going outside at home?

Consuela: I don't go out any more.

Guadalupe: You cannot even walk around in your neighborhood for fear of your life.

Cesar: You're always scared there's going to be a drive-by (shooting).

Luis: You can go out. You have to know where you are, what time it is and what people are around you.

Gerri Washington, 14: I just started going out recently. I was staying home because I was afraid I was going to get shot. At the roller-skating rink where we go, there's a drive-by or a gang fight every Friday and Saturday. I leave early to avoid the shooting. If you see trouble coming, you get away from it. You also hang around with the right people.

Q: Have you ever been assaulted?

Luis: One day I was going to school. I did not know the neighborhood. I had confidence that nothing was going to happen, because people had told me it was a very good neighborhood.

Two guys came out of nowhere and both put a knife to my side. They told me to give them my Nike shoes. I talked them out of it. I made up some lie that I had a cousin who was a member of their gang.

Q: Have you known anyone who was killed?

Jackeline Gonzalez, 13: Almost all my friends who used to live in my neighborhood. One was 13. He was walking right behind a guy they were trying to kill and he got shot. This was a gang fight near the corner of Vermont Avenue and Adams Boulevard.

Q: Was that hard to go through?

Jackeline: Yes. He lived right across the street. You talk to someone five minutes before they get shot and later on you see them on the floor and you know they aren't going to come back to you.

Gerri: A girl I knew was saying goodby to somebody in her doorway. It was in the projects and there are always a lot of drive-bys. They were trying to shoot somebody else and they shot her in the head twice and she died.

Luis: A real close friend who was a gangbanger got shot by another gangbanger. He was probably better off dead. He was going to die anyway. If one gang didn't get him, another would. The world didn't have anything else to offer him.

There's no way out of the violence for anybody. Everywhere you go, you see or hear it. They say the world is coming to an end; that God is going to destroy us. But we're killing each other first. Everybody wants to fight for no reason. Either they want to fight for money or they fight wars or fight for territory like gangs.

Q: That sounds sad.

Gerri: Our world is a very messed-up place.

Luis: We could call it 'The World of Fear.' "

Q: Why do you think young people want to be violent?

Gerri: They're ruthless and they don't care what they do.

Cesar: Sometimes they want to prove a point to a friend.

Luis: The government doesn't offer them enough jobs to have a better opportunity. So they say, "I'm going to get a gun and start jacking people for their money."

Q: Do the TV shows or movies have an effect on violence?

Gerri: You see it (violence) all the time. You see it on TV, in the songs, in videos. You can't get away from it unless you die.

Luis: (Killing) is not the fault of the person who has done it. It's everybody's fault. Society is teaching kids violence through movies. Kids want to be violent because of what they see in the movies.

Q: Do you think the situation will get better or worse?

Consuela: I think it might get better. There are more police on campus. Most kids at school don't want to get hurt and I think if they saw a gun, they would tell.

Gerri: People bring guns to school because they're afraid of being robbed or jumped because of what they have on or where they live. I don't think it's going to stop until there are no more gangs or crazy people.

Q: That all sounds gloomy. Do you think about death?

Luis: Yes. I think we should all have a right to die by God's way. We should not die in a violent way. We don't deserve that.

Gerri: I always think about how I want to die. I don't want to get shot, but if I do, I want to get shot in the head right here (pointing to her forehead), so I die instantly. Or I want to die pleasantly in my sleep.

I want to move somewhere where there's no killing, but there's always something wrong everywhere. There's no heaven on Earth.

Jackeline: My parents want to move to Houston. There are no drive-bys, but there are skinheads. There are also crazy people trying to kill you.

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