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Why Shoot? 'For the Hell of It'

March 18, 1993|Michael Quintanilla | Times Staff Writer

Anthony, 16, is a former member of the 36th Street gang in South-Central L.A. At one point, he and a younger brother owned as many as 20 guns and rifles. He left gang life three years ago and since then has returned to school, but his brother is still a gangbanger. Anthony wears a rosary around his neck for protection. I was 12 when I first shot a gun. My homeboys said, "Let's go shoot the enemy." We went and shot at the 29th Street gang at their hangout. We did a drive-by. I don't know if I hit somebody. I don't know if anyone died.

We went shooting for the hell of it, because that's the way it works. Later on you hear rumors that somebody died, but you don't know if you did it.

I've shot a gun more than 30 times. I'd go shoot, come back home, smoke weed, drink and go shoot. Now it bothers me a lot that I could have killed somebody. I think about it every day: "Did I kill somebody?" I don't know.

I got shot in the leg twice. I came out of a video store at night and they hit me. I thought I was going to die. That's when I got out of the gang life.

I'm wearing this rosary because I got a feeling that one of these days I'm going to get shot. Wearing the rosary means to me that I am going to be safe.

Why kill? When we're young, sometimes we don't get that much love from our parents. Sometimes mothers and fathers don't care. It don't feel like a family. Our homeboys give us love like family. If anybody messes with me I'll call my homeboys and we'll beat them up and kill them.

Once I was kicking it with my homeboys at 36th and Maple. Some other gangsters shot and hit these two little girls. When they shot them, we didn't like it. Those little girls were innocent.

So we went and started shooting and hitting them. All our homeboys got crazy. You go crazy with a gun. You start drinking Old English and Colt 45 and smoking weed. You get drunk and you say, "Let's go make a drive-by."

It's easy to pull the trigger. In the ghetto you gotta be tough. In order for us to be tough, we have to have guns and go shoot. We have to be shooting and killing people for us to have something cool, cars--something.

We shoot because gangs in your 'hood cross you out (a rival gang defaces another gang's name that has been painted on a wall).

You kill if someone throws rag (snitches to police about a shooting). A snitch doesn't live for long. If someone shoots and the police come and ask who did it, you say, "No, I didn't see nothing. I don't know nothing." That's why it's become easy to kill. You can get away with it because no one throws rag.

Another reason for killing is because on TV, they show commercials about how white boys are living better than others, that only the rich people can have a better life. So in order for us to have that, we need to steal and shoot somebody for their bikes, their cars, their money.

Sometimes when you kill, it's because your own homeboys have brainwashed you. The homeboys will be telling you, "C'mon, c'mon go shoot this guy. Kill him for his car. Just shoot him and bring the car back, and you'll have us as homeboys forever."

They'll shoot you for your car, your bike, your gold and your money to have a better life. We'll go and shoot someone and get the car, use it for a little while, strip it and sell the parts and have money. That's the way we think. That's the attitude about killing. Killing for stuff that the white boy has.

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