August 25, 2008
Authorities seek programs for youths to reduce violence
At 14, Javier Quiroz was starting to take pride in his appearance. He liked to wear nice clothes, and his hair was rarely out of place. He played soccer and swam with friends, and he worked part time at a cousin's restaurant. He lived with his family in a City Heights apartment complex his mother manages.
Javier was a block from the apartment, at a friend's house, the last time his mother spoke to him. It was about midnight when she called and told him to come home.
“I'm coming back,” he said. “Don't worry.”
Javier never made it home.
Police said he was one of 28 people killed in gang-related homicides last year in San Diego, an increase of 56 percent from 2006. This year, there were 11 gang-related homicides through yesterday, compared with 17 over the same period last year, a 35 percent decrease.
Extra personnel for the gang unit this year has helped, police said.
Some parents want to see even more officers along with more programs for children in southern and southeastern San Diego – communities dotted with more sidewalk vigils than playgrounds. The memorials honor homicide victims, but they also remind residents that they live, work and play among gang members. [Mark Godsey]
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