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LAPD WATCH : Targeting Cops

September 30, 1993

If there was any doubt that some of the streets of Los Angeles are getting even meaner, even more shockingly violent and unpredictable, it has to be dispelled by the gang ambush of two anti-gang police officers on Tuesday.

A lack of respect for the law has always been a problem in America. The difference now, of course, is that lack of respect is backed by firepower as never before.

There have always been gangs--but never have so many of them been so heavily armed. And not often has gunfire been trained on cops. Usually gangs try to avoid that.

The shooting, which occurred at 6:30 p.m. near 53rd Street and Broadway in South Los Angeles, left Officer Ray Mendoza seriously wounded. The vicious attack occurred as Mendoza and his partner, Jerry Ballesteros, were driving a suspected drug offender they had arrested to the nearby Newton Street station for processing. Mendoza, 35, who fortunately was wearing a bulletproof vest, was in stable condition. We hope for his speedy recovery.

When the history of the Los Angeles of the '90s is written, historians will note the onset of the epoch in which even cops became targets of heavily armed members of gangs. They will want to know what went wrong with a society that permitted such violence to develop, why strong steps were not taken to limit--indeed eliminate where possible--the possession of guns, and at what point street gangs had so little fear in their hearts that with impunity they felt they could open up on police officers and try to kill them.

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