Escondido takes a stand against gang violence

Community meeting addresses what needs to change
Posted at 7:57 PM, Mar 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-30 22:57:10-04

The Escondido community met Thursday night to combat the ongoing issue of gang violence. A variety of community outreach programs, along with local law enforcement came together to discuss education, prevention and intervention as a solution moving forward. 

Their meeting was already scheduled, but after an innocent woman was killed in a gang shooting, it hit even closer to home for some residents. 

55-year-old Catherine Kennedy was heading home from bible study -- but she would never make it there. She was killed in the crossfire of a turf war by two gang members. 

The gang violence in Escondido is nothing new to the community. 

"It continues to evolve based on grandparents to parents, parents to children, children to grandchildren," said Patty Huerta with Escondido Education Compact. 

A variety of programs are in place to fight it but it still doesn't end. 

"I think we've done a lot of work but we still haven't stopped the violence," said Huerta. 

Escondido Police say there are about 450 documented gang members in the city. That number hasn't gone down in years. 

After the city's most recent loss to gang violence more people are talking. 

Agner Medrano is one of those people. He spent years in a North County gang. 

"There's peer pressure, there's power, a feel of wanting to be a part of something and the gang provides all that," said Medrano. 

He's out now and spends time helping others do the same. 

"It's still a challenge because it takes a whole village."

He says they won't ever go away. 

"You'll never get rid of gangs. It's part of culture. But one thing that we could do is minimize the violence."

When that violence does happen, like Catherine Kennedy's death, he says it doesn't go unrecognized by the people behind it.

"You pretend that you don't have feelings but when you get home you think about all that. Or when you're locked up behind bars or in juvenile detention you think about the things that you did. And you feel sorry but sometimes its too late."