'East Side Story'--The Last Chapter : Pressure From Gang Apparently Gets the Better of Romance

Times Staff Writer

Jason and Yolanda, the star-crossed young couple whose romance grew into a real life "West Side Story," have lost their battle to find love on gang turf.

Jason, 18, a former neo-Nazi "skinhead," and Yolanda, 15, a former member of a La Verne street gang, had been harassed for nearly two months by the barrio "home-boys" who still considered her one of their own.

Last week--just a day after restating their marriage plans in an appearance on KABC-TV's "A.M. L.A."--Jason and Yolanda did, in fact, decide to part, police said. Later that same night, an arsonist torched the tiny house they had shared with Yolanda's mother in La Verne, a San Gabriel Valley town 45 minutes from Los Angeles.

No one was injured in the fire, which followed a range of crimes against the couple, including prowling, inciting a fight, threatening a witness and hurling an object at a car. Officers have arrested 10 gang members in connection with the incidents.

"There were a lot of external pressures," said La Verne Police Detective Steve Kirk, who has talked to the couple at length. "I think they just decided to give things a rest."

Jason Mavers is now living with family members in Pomona. Yolanda, whose family has asked that her surname be withheld, is staying with relatives in La Verne.

"At least maybe things will cool down for a while now," said Yolanda's grandfather, Robert Guerrero, who was surveying the damage at the house on Tuesday. "We don't want any more problems."

Neither Jason nor Yolanda could be reached for comment. Family and acquaintances say the two are now shunning publicity.

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