Gunfire Erupts at Mayor's Anti-Gang Program 'Summer Night Lights' in Sun Valley; Two Shot

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Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge Mayor Villaraigosa promotes Summer Night Lights.
  • Mayor Villaraigosa promotes Summer Night Lights.
Amid proud statistics from the mayor's office on the effectiveness of his anti-gang program Summer Night Lights since it began five years ago, a shooting at the Sun Valley Park location has "set the bar back," a member of the neighborhood council tells the L.A. Daily News.

Last Thursday night, a crowd of anti-gang workers and community members had gathered at Sun Valley Park for free food, games and conversation, as they do four days a week from 7 p.m. to midnight.

But an hour before the floodlights were set to shut off...

... police say two men walked up to the gathering and opened fire. At 11 p.m., @EASTLA_NEWS wrote that the LAPD was "rolling heavy" to a shooting at the park, and that cops were "having a busy night." Tragically, two young men working for the Summer Night Lights program were hit, according to the Daily News: a 17-year-old and a 22-year-old. Both appear to be members of the "youth squad," which takes teens from the community who are "at-risk for gang involvement and engaging in gang violence" and puts them to work on a summer stipend. The good news is they're expected to recover. But the irony is inescapable: An event meant to ward off gang violence may have actually attracted it. The Daily News talked to LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman:
One man fired into the crowd, striking a young man in the hand, Neiman said. Another man was shot in the jaw. The pair fled after the shooting. The incident is believed to be gang-related, Neiman said.
Reminds us a little of the Oscar Duncan murder last month in Venice. Duncan, a known youth pastor and anti-gang worker in the area, was shot to death outside his mother's home after a reported exchange with some gangsters rolling through. Sun Valley Park is one of 32 parks in gang-plagued areas of Los Angeles that currently host Summer Night Lights events from July through September. However, this particular location is only in its second year. We've contacted program officials for comment. Updates to come.
View Larger Map [@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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