New life after gang violence in Escondido

Ex gang member works to help others in Escondido
Posted at 6:27 PM, Mar 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-17 21:27:45-04

After a 55-year-old was killed in the crossfire of gang violence, a former gang member opens up about changing his life and working to help others.

At just 13 years old, Agner Medrano pledged to a life of violence. 

"We're inspired out there in the streets to become a hardcore gang member," said Medrano. "To be part of something."

It consumed him for six years. 

"I was involved in different things. Crimes, drugs, that's what gangs do. Fighting, gang banging and all that."

And he couldn't get out.

"Even gang members dream of a future without gangs."

Until hurting someone close to him made him change his life. 

"That was important to me. Hearing the cry of my mom crying every night. And she told me you need to change over and over. And I tried but it was hard but one day I succeeded."

Now, he works with Victory Outreach.  

"Kids are not looking to join gangs. They're running away from pain."

Helping others just like him put that violence in the past.  

"If you want to get out of that gang lifestyle, you gotta move out of that area, the community. Because gangs are attractive."

Forming bonds between opposing sides.  

"You gotta change all the way, you cant hang out no more, you cant associate no more. You really gotta make a drastic change."

And after Escondido's most recent tragedy, he says there's still hope. 

"This is not gonna destroy us, but bring us together. This is going to bring us stronger as a community."

So that one day, a city divided becomes a neighborhood of progress.  

 Victory Outreach is hosting a community event on Thursday, March 30th. For more information, click here.