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Four Mexican Teenagers Killed In Tijuana This Week

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Aired 1/8/10

Four Mexican teenagers are among the more than 20 people killed since Monday in Tijuana. At one high school, gunmen ambushed three teenagers.

Four Mexican teenagers are among the more than 20 people killed since Monday in Tijuana. KPBS Border Reporter Amy Isackson visited the high school where gunmen ambushed three teenagers.

The public high school is called Cobach Jardines La Mesa. It is a collection of low-slung concrete buildings, nestled into a hillside, surrounded by modest homes.

Thursday afternoon, girls in their red plaid-skirts and boys in their dark pants streamed off buses and out of their parents cars for mid-year exams. At the gate, a security guard informed students class was canceled until Monday due to the murders the day before.

Nineteen-year-old Orlando, who didn't want to give his last name, says he saw it all happen. "We were going down the hill and there was a noise, like ta-ta-ta-ta."

Orlando says gunfire burst out of a small white car. Bullets hit the Jeep his friend was riding in with her boyfriend and another student. All were 16 years old.

The white car sped away. The Jeep crashed into a telephone pole in front a nursery school. "I got sick. I got sick. Cause I looked at her all shot. I got sick in the street. After that, at my house. You know, she's not coming back. That's what really put me like sad," says Orlando.

The Baja California Attorney General's office says they collected 35 bullet casings at the scene.

State investigators say the killers used an AK-47 machine gun, one of the drug cartel's favorite weapons. However, investigators have not offered information beyond the basic facts.

A half dozen students at the school say two boys had some ties to a gang, but the girl did not.

Bernice, who's 17 and was friends with the girl, says it used to be if you weren't involved you were safe. "But now, its not like they're going to ask you, are you in this, or tell you, 'get out of here because I'm going to kill these guys.' You just don't know who people are, or who their friends are. There's just not a sense of security."

The number of teenagers killed in Tijuana last year, eight, was half what it was the year before. But, this year, four have already died.

Investigators and circumstances suggest the killings are tied to organized crime.

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