Eduardo Rebolledo of Los Angeles had just got into his pickup truck after work, eager to head home to his two children, when a gang dispute erupted 30 yards behind him. The 38-year-old ducked into the path of a bullet that hit him in the head, killing him instantly, reports the Associated Press. “He was completely innocent. The guy’s never even had a parking ticket,” said police detective Dave Peteque. “He’s just a working Joe, a family man trying to support his kids.” Rebolledo joined the growing list of victims in the second-largest U.S. city, where murders are up 12 percent this year and shooting victims are up 20 percent, nearing the 1,000 mark. Police Chief Charlie Beck has expressed his frustration about the bloodshed, particularly among gangs. “This is not Dodge City,” he said, referring to 19 shootings in a weekend, 13 of which were gang-related. The increases come as redevelopment of downtown and nearby neighborhoods has attracted trendy new bars and restaurants and thousands of new residents.
In response to the rising numbers, police have deployed hundreds of elite officers to crime hot spots, increased the number of officers walking the streets versus patrolling in cars, and created a community relationship division dedicated to building the public’s trust. Beck said police can’t solve the problem alone. “A lot of it is public will,” he said. “A will of everyone in the city of Los Angeles to say, ‘Enough is enough.'” Some residents stepped up their efforts when the crime numbers started going up. Rebolledo’s death inspired a “peace movement” in the neighborhood where he was killed, said Michelle Miranda of Alliance for Community Empowerment, which provides services to disadvantaged youth, including gang intervention.