PASADENA — Even as police remain frustrated in solving the Halloween night slayings of three Pasadena boys, members of the community are forging ahead with a citywide anti-violence task force whose numbers and goals increase daily.
Beginning with 15 shaken community leaders who met on a Friday morning several days after the deaths of Edgar Evans, 13, and Stephen Coats and Reggie Crawford, both 14, the new Coalition for a Non-Violent City has mushroomed to more than 70 participants.
On board are most of the city's social service agencies, many churches, some city department heads and Pasadena's main business associations.
The group seeks an ambitious program of public hearings, surveys, data gathering, youth services, a gang truce and gun control legislation.
"It will be a total mobilization of the community," predicted Shirley Adams, executive director of the Pasadena-Foothill Branch of the Los Angeles Urban League and one of the coalition's key organizers. "Out of tragedy, comes a teachable moment."
Adams was among five coalition members who spoke at last week's City Council meeting.
This week, the council is to decide how the city will participate in the grass roots movement that took off almost spontaneously and independently of council action.
"This is unique," Mayor Rick Cole said of the new group. "I've never seen something come together almost instantaneously with such broad support. But what happened on Halloween is something that touched people in this city as few things have."
In a town all too familiar with gang violence--12 gang-related killings out of 25 homicides this year alone--the Halloween night slayings stood out, Cole said.
"The reaction is almost universally, 'It could have been my child. It could have been my street. This can't happen anymore,' " he said.
None of the boys killed Oct. 31 were gang members. All were doing well in school and in outside activities. They had just left an adult-chaperoned party and phoned their parents on their way home.
They were walking in central Pasadena with seven other boys on foot along North Wilson Avenue at 10:30 p.m. when two gunmen jumped out of bushes in front of a house and sprayed the group with semi-automatic gunfire.
Three boys were killed. Three were injured.
The assailants, believed to be gang members, fled in cars parked a block away, witnesses said.
Despite $40,000 in reward money immediately mustered by the City Council, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and an Inglewood anti-crime foundation, no one has called with detailed, specific information that could lead directly to suspects, police say.
No names, no license plate numbers, no gang boasting have been reported to police, Pasadena Police Lt. Denis Petersen said.
"I'm not sure why no one is talking," he said. "Perhaps it's fear of possible retaliation if someone comes forward."
The night of the slayings, police found nearby on the ground two bandannas, articles of clothing commonly worn by gang members. But so far, that evidence has not been linked to the killings, Petersen said.
Police have explored various crime scenarios.
One is that the boys were slain by warring gang members in retaliation for the shooting earlier that same night of, Fernando Hodges, 22, a gang member, who died a day later of his injuries.
A second scenario is that the boys were shot in a gang initiation, a requirement to prove the mettle of fledgling members.
A third is that some of the taller, thinner shooting victims may have been mistaken for older youths and possible gang members.
But none of those scenarios have produced a positive motive, Petersen said.
With clues in the investigation getting stale last week, six additional investigators began assisting the two detectives assigned to the case. Most of the extra staffing will continue through December, Petersen said.
"As the time drags on, there's a certain amount of frustration," the lieutenant said. "But we are ultimately going to get to the bottom of it."
That frustration boiled up a week ago, when more than 100 Pasadena residents showed up at a meeting of the Orange-Villa Neighborhood Assn., a group whose boundaries include the street on which the shooting occurred.
At the emotional meeting, irate residents demanded of Pasadena Police Chief Jerry Oliver and Detective Timothy Sweetman an explanation of why police cold not solve the murders.
Michele Meyer, who organized the gathering, said she understands the anger. Many in her neighborhood are afraid and still grieving three weeks after the shooting.
"You can feel it in the air, the scaredness," Meyer said. "You don't see people on the streets like before it happened. It's got kind of like an eerie feeling."
Three of her four children, close friends of the slain boys, are experiencing delayed reactions now, she said.
"One is a little despondent. One got real sick and stayed home from school. And one of mine's not really talking about it," she said.