Families of Pomona homicide victims to march against violence

Families of Pomona homicide victims to march to halt violence Saturday

Pomona residents and the families of homicide victims will resume their campaign to end violence Saturday morning with a march outside City Hall.

Participants will gather beginning at 8 a.m. and start the two-mile march around the Pomona Civic Center at 505 S. Garey Ave. at 9.

Marchers can carry photos and tokens of loved ones to be hung on a remembrance wall at the end of the march. The event is being organized by New Beginnings Ministries in Baldwin Park, which lost a youth pastor to Pomona violence last year.

Daniel Diaz, 33, was shot to death by an unidentified assailant in November while dropping off a friend near his home in Pomona. His killing was the 24th in a particularly bloody year for the San Gabriel Valley city.

Over the last two years Pomona has seen a sharp increase in homicides, reversing years of decline in a city once known for its high crime rate and gang wars.

Pomona recorded only 11 homicides in 2011, and 17 in 2012. Officials say the 2013 total of 29 is the highest since the 1990s. Six people have been killed in the city so far this year, according to an analysis of homicide data by the L.A. Times. Half of those were from a gunman who ultimately took his own life in a domestic murder-suicide.

Two factors appear to be contributing to Pomona's problems: violence between young people from warring street gangs and a depleted police force.

According to the city, the number of sworn officers in the department has declined by about 50 since 2010 due to budget cuts.

Police attribute many of the homicides to rising gang violence in certain sections of the city.

The department has been struggling to come up with an effective strategy. Police gang task forces meet every other month to go over gang intelligence, department officials said, and plainclothes officers routinely flood the streets to catch criminals in the act. On at least one occasion, a suspect tried to carjack a plainclothes officer.

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