Sunday, July 30, 2006

Urban rangers on the frontline in gang wars

City parks are designed to be sanctuaries of peace and tranquility allowing people to escape the chaos of the city. The problems of the city, however, don't stop at the park gates. While most rangers may have to deal with gangs of cooler raiding racoons, urban rangers find themselves dealing with the criminal escapades of armed teens earger to prove to their loalty and temerity to their fellow gang members. The ruthlessness of these teen gangs is shocking. Here is the story of a 15 year old gang member who goes by the name "Hitler" that went on a shooting rampage through an urban park in Orange County.

A day in the park with Hitler (Orange County Weekly)

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has primary jurisdiction over Mile Square Park, but it’s often county park rangers like Lorrie Zuczek who handle actual patrols, either in trucks or on horseback. On Aug. 23, 2002, Zuczek approached a large group of Vietnamese teenagers in the park. They assured her everything was cool. But minutes later, five Vietnamese males between 15 and 16 years old—Nguyen’s DFJ associates—ran to Zuczek. She’d later describe them as “frightened and agitated.” One of them said, “Those guys are going to kill us. You’ve got to call the cops! We think they have guns.” Zuczek then saw the larger group of gangsters—the Natoma Boys Junior and Young Locs—flashing gang signs. While the ranger made an emergency call to police, the DFJ members hid behind her truck. Five minutes later, everyone heard gunfire in a different section of the park. The day of the shooting, Silvia and her fiancĂ©, David, (we’re withholding their last names) went to Mile Square Park for a picnic. The 600-plus-acre, suburban park is normally tranquil. The couple found a spot on the grass with a view of a lake and spread a blanket for a picnic. But they’d inadvertently chosen front-row seats for a shootout. Less than 50 feet away, a young Asian male with short, spiky hair, a white T-shirt and dark baggy pants climbed from the back seat of an Acura and began yelling at a crowd of Asian teenagers. Then the kid—he looked barely into his teen years—pulled a gun out of his waistband and started firing. It was mayhem, and then it got worse. “My fiancĂ© told me to duck down and stay down,” Silvia later testified. She watched screaming people scatter. One fleeing teen took off his sneakers in hopes of running away faster. He got hit anyway, and from her spot on the picnic blanket, Silvia watched as the victim tore off his shirt, moaning, held his gunshot wound with both hands and ran at her. The angry shooter was running right behind him, still firing.

No comments: