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Orange County Focus

LAKE FOREST : Anti-Youth-Violence Measures Promised

March 26, 1994|FRANK MESSINA

In the wake of a recent drive-by shooting attempt, the City Council promised this week to take strong measures to help curb gang violence.

At a special meeting that played out like a community discussion, with several audience members stepping forward to express their frustration over youth violence, the council agreed to:

* Distribute information containing anti-gang hot-line numbers to children and parents at local schools.

* Make serious efforts to open a youth recreation center.

* Increase participation in the Neighborhood Watch program.

* Ask young people about their needs at an informal discussion meeting.

* Assist the Green Ribbon anti-youth-violence program with funding and other needs.

* Gather support from Orange County cities to pressure the state Legislature for tougher laws against crime by youths.

"Four years ago, we thought this problem was all in Santa Ana and Garden Grove," Councilman Tim Link said. "We've been very spoiled in not having to deal with (youth violence). But now it's here."

Still shocked and angry over an incident last week in which several shots were fired by teen-agers in a passing car, several Tama Lane residents at the meeting agreed that gangs had found their neighborhood.

They described daily gatherings of up to 15 teen-age boys in front of houses on their blocks, telling the council that residents felt like prisoners in their own homes.

Green Ribbon campaign founder Karen Lott, whose son was wounded in a Lake Forest drive-by shooting last year, offered her support to the Tama Road residents.

"I don't think there is any more important issue at hand than the safety of our children," Lott said. "We've got to admit we have a problem. We hear a lot of talk about gang members coming from out of town, but people need to realize that it's our own kids" committing acts of violence.

Tama Lane residents urged the council to take direct action to ease problems in their neighborhood.

City officials said the drive-by shooting was a random act, but assured residents that sheriff's deputies would break up any large groups of teen-agers gathering in the neighborhood.

Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Robert Nesmith said investigators were following leads on youths in the car from which several shots were fired, missing two teen-agers.

However, deputies still don't have a full description of those involved, Nesmith said.

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