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Gang Violence In San Diego’s North County - What’s Being Done?

Evening Edition

Captain Ray Bechler, an investigator with the Oceanside Police Department, and Agner Medrano, a pastor and former gang member who works with at risk groups, talk to KPBS.

Aired 3/28/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Captain Ray Bechler, Investigator, Oceanside Police Dept.

Donald Stump, Executive Director, North County Lifeline

Agner Medrano, Pastor and former gang member who works with at risk groups



SD Crime Stoppers Reward

SD Crime Stoppers Reward

SD Crime Stoppers Reward offered for information on Libby Lake Park killings.

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Gang violence is an ongoing problem in San Diego's North County with nearly two dozen gangs claiming turf along the Highway 78 corridor. The recent shooting of a 13- and 15-year-old at Oceanside's Libby Lake Park has Oceanside Police canvassing the area for witnesses. But fear in the community has made many reluctant to come forward.

Two other teens were killed at the same spot almost two years ago. Authorities say that shooing was gang-related.

Captain Ray Bechler with Oceanside Police says the challenge is getting families and communities involved. He says it's made difficult by the fact that many are immigrants who want to limit their interaction with police. The city has a number of programs in place in the area of prevention but also intervention with their "Gang Suppression Unit" where they work in conjunction with the schools of the Oceanside Unified School District working with at-risk youth to deter them from joining gangs.

Former gang member turned pastor Agner Medrano tells KPBS he was lured into a Carlsbad gang at the age of 12. He now mentors at risk kids. He meets one-on-one with gang members to gain their confidence and become a sort of big brother or father figure to them. "We encourage them," he says, " and we try to reach their heart to find out what they care about most - when you get into their heart - then you get to everything else." Agner says it opens the door for gang members to think about other activities they can become involved with - instead of the gang.

There are prevention programs in place throughout North County, according to Donald Stump, executive director of North County Lifeline. They look for kids who might be at risk, as early as elementary school. Stump says it's important to "keep them busy to keep them out of a gang." He stresses that intervention is needed, but it comes at a cost and with budget cuts there's very little funding.

Stump says getting parents involved is crucial. "They need to know what's going on with their kid," he says. North County Lifeline has programs in place to work in this area.

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Avatar for user 'shellymichele54'

shellymichele54 | March 28, 2013 at 12:21 p.m. ― 3 years, 12 months ago

All those North County people who think they are all that, well take a look at you now - on par with gang bs in Central San Diego and South County...

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Avatar for user 'Bagofchips'

Bagofchips | March 28, 2013 at 2:41 p.m. ― 3 years, 12 months ago

North County is all that. We are talking The 78 corridor here, from Escondido to Oceanside, which is rubbish.
The real inland North county- PQ, Poway, Carmel Mountain, RB, Rancho Santa Fe, 4S Ranch.... That's the stuff.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | March 28, 2013 at 3:50 p.m. ― 3 years, 12 months ago

I will say that the tagging seems to be going down. The Sherrif's Dept. stays on it. These gangs will never go away. Just have to be aware. On the fun side, we have a local gang that wears shorts, black knee high socks and black shoes. Perhaps the intervention folks can buy them a few issues of GQ magazine. They look like a bunch of geeks. LOL

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | March 29, 2013 at 10:20 a.m. ― 3 years, 12 months ago

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Avatar for user 'Cricket'

Cricket | December 15, 2013 at 5:31 p.m. ― 3 years, 3 months ago

I'm looking for an "older" member of a Hispanic gang who recently (September, 2013) had to endure a hospital stay at hospital in Carlsbad and was punished by having his head shaved. A loved one of mine was there at that time too and was threatened with having his/her head shaved. I remember the nurses and a young girl who was around 16, but had a huge administration responsibility for some reason laughing about this man. They went in jokingly one after another to look at this man's tatts. They made fun of him, bullied and emotionally and physically terrorized him, and one example is that they shaved his head. They also threatened my family member with shaving his/her head (and other things--some accomplished) because he or she stood up for this "gang member" and said he or she would report all of these humiliating and abusive treatment. There is no reason to mention the terror that my family member endured while at this horrible place. We just want justice and for no person to ever have to suffer from this sort of treatment in a place that is supposed to CARE for you. Also, this "older Hispanic gang member (maybe around 50's)" had a visitor. I HEARD how this visitor was treated and abused (beaten). If you know of this, you know what I'm talking about. This patient/gang member also, as the nurses and the "security" on the floor gossiped about for hours (I could hear) this man was a man of gang notoriety and somewhat famous, but said he had gotten out of the business. This man that had his dignity taken, his head shaved, and was abused because of his cultural and gang affiliation. So that we can begin to make a group to recover not only our dignity and keep others from this abuse, let's band together to find justice and to seek damages in a class action suit. The ACLU and other groups are on our side. Please spread the word to everyone you know. Let's not be the ones bent over the table. I am sincere and only seek justice. I did not mention the name of the hospital to abide by the guidelines.

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