The violence came to a head with the Halloween slayings of 1993. Three members of a particularly violent gang eventually were sentenced to death for the fatal shootings of three innocent teenage boys carrying bags of candy on their way home from a party.
Authorities said the boys were killed in a case of gang revenge gone wrong.
The killings spawned dramatic changes in the way Pasadena combats gang crimes.
When Chief Bernard Melekian took over the Pasadena Police Department in 1996, he quickly went on the offense, declaring, "No more dead children." Melekian began a gang enforcement task force and several programs to help young people, including a juvenile-offender peer group court.
In addition, anguished residents staged memorials and lobbied for tougher gun laws.
They formed several community groups and funded summer jobs and violence prevention efforts.
But the gangs remained, say authorities, and now include five African American gangs in Pasadena, each one part of the Crips or Bloods; and six Latino gangs. Neighboring Altadena is home to at least two more gangs.
Pasadena police sources said that many of the shootings, while not specifically related, have at least in part been engineered by gang members, and that some are over drug territory.
"We are targeting known gang members, gang locations and late parties," Melekian said. "This is a reminder this stuff doesn't go away. This is a societal problem."
Melekian said that while some of the violence is between Latino and African American gangs, he believes the racial tensions are easing and are less a factor than battles over drug turf. Many of the recent shootings involve suspects and victims of the same ethnic group, he added.
Although authorities blame gangs, community leaders say that the root causes of the violence are much more complicated.
"Officials don't want to offend the black community who holler, 'Do something' on one hand but then yell, 'Not my kid,' " said Joe Hopkins, a local attorney and the publisher of the Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley Journal, the area's African American newspaper.
Hopkins, along with Segura of the YWCA and others, pointed to changing demographics in the city, which is now almost 60% nonwhite.
"We are feeling that it is not all gang related -- that it's inequity related," Segura said.
Melekian said that Pasadena proved after the 1993 Halloween killings that it could work together to reduce crime, and that moment has again arrived. "Several years ago, this community proved that it could do that," he said. "This senseless killing needs to stop."
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Here are details of some of the attacks in the Pasadena area this year.
Deon Mitchell, 21, was shot in Pasadena and died at 10:03 p.m. Mitchell was a Navy reservist with no ties to gangs, police said. He was in a parking lot, about to get into his car with several friends, when a man walked up with a hood over his face and started shooting. The suspect then got into a dark four-door compact car and fled. Mitchell's 17-year-old brother Dana Clark was shot five times in the chest during the incident, but lived. Both are considered by police to be random victims.
Shawn Baptiste, 18, was shot several times in a car at Lincoln Avenue and Orange Grove in Pasadena about 7:53 p.m. and died the next morning, in what investigators called a gang-related killing.
In a 24-hour period, shootings left Tony Walker, 37, and Jamal Varcasia, 21, dead and Christian Peralta, 19, paralyzed. Walker was sitting in a car with another man at 120 E. Washington Blvd. when drive-by assailants attacked. He was shot in the head and torso and died at 1:56 p.m. May 7. Varcasia was struck at close range by 9-millimeter bullets in Pasadena and died at 10:20 a.m. May 8. Three men and a woman have since been arrested and charged with the slayings of Walker and Varcasia. A 15-year-old boy faces an attempted murder charge in the attack on Peralta.
Leron Brown, 31, was fatally shot while sitting in his car outside an Altadena liquor store, just before 3 p.m. Around 10:30 p.m. the same day, a 25-year-old man was shot in the arm in the 1300 block of Marengo Avenue in Pasadena.
An unidentified man was shot in the 100 block of Mountain View Street in Altadena, possibly in retaliation for the June 4 killing of Leron Brown.
Joseph Vargas, 31, and Sergio Mendes, 34, were killed in a shooting in the 1500 block of Navarro Avenue in Pasadena. Detectives later arrested three people in Covina: Jonathon Warren, 22, Diana Reyes, 20, and a male juvenile whose name and age were not released. Investigators said the shootings appear to be gang-related.
Sources: Pasadena Police Department; Times reports