Gang activity peaks in Delano Community

Elias C. Ahumada, Opinons Editor

“Stop the violence, stop the violence, don’t they see who they are hurting?” said Maria Juana Gonzalez-Pena, 49, who’s son, Alberto Juan Gonzalez, 19, was found dead in a triple homicide in Delano on Oct 25.

Homicides aren’t the only crimes that some residents in the area have been exposed to. Some residents have experienced home invasions, car thefts, and rape.

In recent years Delano has become a hot spot for gang activity. Mark DeRosia, Chief of Police, said, “I think that many parents today find it easy to pawn their kids off on the schools, and say you’re responsible to keep my kid out of trouble, they perhaps expect the police to provide things for them to do, expect the government to do that instead of stepping up to the plate, and saying, it’s important for me to know where my kid is, where they’re at and who they are with, and what they are doing.”

DeRoisa believes that parents play a major role in helping prevent many of the crimes committed by teens in the city. However, he also believes that schools and local government can help fill in some voids, but ultimately it is the parents’ responsibility.

“If there is nothing out there for them to do they will find things to do,” said DeRoisa. He believes that many parents feel that the police department is mainly responsible for allowing crime to happen in the city, but that is not true at all.

Compared to stats from last year, auto theft, has gone down 12% with 373 thefts in 2013 and so far this year 325 reported (as of Oct 2014).

Other crimes that are down from last year include robberies, burglaries, and theft.

Assault crimes have increased 4.1% compared from last year and rape crimes have gone up 300%. However, some residents are most worried about homicides. Surprisingly homicides have increased 80%.

A total of five homicides were reported in 2013 and there have been nine this year so far.

“I will say that I believe that most of these are gang related,” said DeRoisa, in reference to some of the most recent homicides that have happened in the city of Delano.

“We had three of those homicide cases that appear not to be gang related in the past 18 months, one was the Johnny Espinoza case, the barber who was killed, we have a suspect in custody and he’s been charged with murder. We have the young lady that came up missing and was found in the canal, and that’s an unsolved. We also have the Cody Harris shooting at Kalibo Park which there does not appear to be any involvement by that person being a gang member, however it was gang related in the sense that gang members did it,” said DeRoisa.

The homicides DeRoisa mentioned involved John Holguin Espinoza, 88, a local barber, who was found in a canal inside of his own trunk September of 2013.

Erika Padron Lango, 26, from Delano, was also found in a canal after she was reported missing for about two months.

Cody Harris, 20 Delano, was shot and killed at Kalibo Park, a local park in Delano, Nov. 18, 2013.

Another crime that has some residents worried is home invasions.

Yasmin Navarro, 23, of Delano, and her family were victims of a home invasion May 7, 2014.

“It was about 1 a.m. and my sister works nights, so what happened was, my mom got up and she thought it was my sister getting home from work. When she went to open the door I guess they rushed her,” said Navarro.

Navarro said she heard voices she did not recognize, and that’s when she realized that someone else was inside her house.

“They pointed the gun at me and they told me to come, and [the gun-men] directed us toward my mom’s room.”

Navarro said that there were a total of three burglars and they all had ski masks. The crime went on for about two hours.

“I had found some pictures on my cell phone that were uploaded from my iCloud…but I think when I was trying to explain to the detective, he didn’t understand, but there were pictures of guns and stuff like that on my phone,” Navarro noted.

The burglars took Navarro’s phone on the night of the crime and she believes the criminals used her phone to take photos of guns and a pink slip belonging to a vehicle. Navarro was able to access these photos through her iCloud account, which can be accessed through any device via email log in.

The Delano Police Department is asking the community to work together in the war against gang violence and encourages anyone that has any information of the recent homicides to help them solve these cases.