Teenagers Shot After Summer Night Lights Anti-Gang Program That Villaraigosa Planned to Show Off to U.S. Conference of Mayors Tonight

Summer Night Lights.
Summer Night Lights.

Two teenagers were shot in Wilmington following a Summer Night Lights event, a program that is a cornerstone of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's anti-gang efforts.

In fact, Villaraigosa is the newly elected head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and he planned to show the program off in Boyle Heights tonight as the Conference's Summer Leadership Meeting is happening in L.A. this week.

The shooting early this morning happened ...

... outside the Wilmington Recreation Center shortly after midnight, officer Gregory Baek told the Weekly.

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The victims include an 18-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl, he said. Both were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries and were said to be stable, according to Baek.

According to City News Service the two were part of a group of 30 people walking away from the park when someone in a dark-colored vehicle opened fire.

Another shooting outside a Summer Night Lights event happened last week: A gang member was shot and wounded by rivals near Van Ness Park in South L.A., according to CNS.

Some 50 mayors are in town for the Conference hub-bub. Some were expected to join Villaraigosa at Costello Park tonight to see how Summer Night Lights really works.

The program, which usually involves late-night basketball, free food and other activities, is run as part of the mayor's $25-million-a-year or so anti-gang office. SNL claims its activities have helped reduce gang homicides by 57 percent in 2010 and created 1,000 jobs.

While it would be easy to point and laugh at Villaraigosa here, as it often is, doing anti-gang work isn't so simple. Homeboy Industries, a widely respected make-work program for ex-gangsters led by Father Gregory Boyle, has had its share of tragic shootings because even when thugs try to behave the vida loca can still follow them uninvited.

During a conference call today the mayor said:

Frankly, when you look at the dramatic drop in violence around these parks, it actually makes the case for expanding these programs. And of course we'll make sure that there are plenty of officers at all of our parks as we have in the past.

And still ... we hope those visiting mayors wear vests.

[Added]: Villaraigosa spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton tells the Weekly the mayors' tour of Summer Night Lights "is absolutely still on for tonight."

-With reporting from City News Service. Got news? Email us. Follow us on Twitter, too: @dennisjromero.

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