Citizens of Monrovia are still stunned after a rash of gang-related shootings shattered the tranquil community in the past several weeks which have left three dead and one paralyzed.
Police authorities are blaming the violence on warring Latino and African American gangs.
Monrovia resident Sanders “Pete” Rollins, a 64-year-old black man, was gunned down by unknown assailants in his front yard on Jan. 13. Sixteen-year-old Samantha Salas, a sophomore at Alhambra High School, was shot eight times on her way to a neighborhood store.
Police believe that Rollins was killed in retaliation for the killing of two Latinos in Duarte last month. According to police, both victims had no gang affiliation.
A third victim, 19-year-old Brandon Lee, a former football player at Duarte High School, was also shot and killed in his yard. Although police believe that Lee was not a member of the Du Roc Crips, police believe he was affiliated with the gang. Law enforcement officials said that Lee’s killer may have been Latino.
A Duarte suspect who shot a black 16-year-old boy on Jan. 12, leaving him paralyzed, was arrested Tuesday.
L. A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, promising to curtail the area’s gangs, called the Salas killing “a brutal way of killing an innocent person.”
Police said that the violence erupted after the release in December of black and Latino parolees who returned home to Monrovia. The parolees were members of rival gangs including Monrovia Nuevo Varrio, a Latino gang; and the Du Roc Crips, an African American gang.
On Friday night, 14 law enforcement agencies carried out raids on 44 locations in the eastern San Gabriel Valley in a gang sweep. Seven suspects were arrested and items were collected possibly related to the three killings, authorities said. Police reported that there has yet to be arrests in the homicides.
City officials urged people to be cautious and to avoid places where gangs hang out and report suspicious activity.
In an effort to quell fears about the shootings, city officials plan to hold public meetings this week to address community concerns.