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Friday, February 22, 2008

Thousands stranded, schools locked down as LAPD and Gangs Battle

A battle between gang members and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), strands thousands and shuts down dozens of blocks of Northeast Los Angeles for nearly six hours on Thursday.
It all began when gang members shot a 37 year old man, who at the time was holding the hand of a 2 year old child, over a dozen times. The man died and the child was picked up and carried to safety by a passerby.

According to witnesses, after shooting the man and driving off, several people who knew the victim started shooting at the fleeing car, a white Nissan sedan, carrying the gang members.

As police attempted to stop the suspects about 10 blocks away from where the original shooting took place, three out of the four of the gang members jumped out of the car and two of them started firing at the police. One of those men were firing at the police with an AK-47 rifle, he was shot and killed by the police.

The other shooter was arrested after being located hiding under a car, still in possession of his semiautomatic pistol.

But it was a massive manhunt for the two remaining suspects that shut down dozens of streets in Cypress Park until police arrested one of the men about 5:30 p.m. The other is believed to have driven out of the area, police said.

As police swept through the neighborhood, parents waited anxiously for word about their schoolchildren and other residents remained either stuck inside their homes or kept back by police barricades.

The schools locked down until 6:15 pm, were, Washington Irving Middle School, Fletcher and Aragon elementary schools and Cal Charter.

Swat teams took position and police started a door to door search to find the suspect according to Police Chief William J. Bratton, in what is called the "heart and soul" of the Avenues street gang, whose roots there date back more than 50 years.

Bratton goes on to say that the neighborhood had been terrorized in recent weeks by gang violence and at a news conference stated "Gangs that have been here for generations have been going at each other." he is to the Avenues and Cypress Park gangs.

Since the start of the new year the Avenues gang is suspected of six of the eight Northeast Division homicides reported for this year.

In a statement from Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz, he remarks that the levels of violence in the past weeks are "unheard of".

Gang shootings are nothing new for this part of Los Angeles but the recent escalation of criminal activity and gang shootings over the last few weeks, have the residents of these poor, largely Latino sections north of downtown L.A living in fear.

A 35-year old man, who lives in the apartment building next door and spoke on the condition of anonymity, because of fear of reprisals, said he heard shots Thursday about noon.

"It's been happening since last night," he said. "It's been getting worse and worse every single day."