Region : Gang Violence Blamed

Escalating gang violence was the common thread in a recent series of shootings that left three people dead in northeast Los Angeles and Glendale, authorities said this week.

"It's just typical gang stuff," Los Angeles Police Detective Ron Whitt said. "They're at it hot and heavy every summer."

The LAPD's Northeast Area, where two of the fatal shootings occurred, had a record 51 homicides in 1990, including many attributed to gang disputes--a 30% increase over the 39 deaths the previous year. The most recent shootings brought the area's 1991 homicide total to 31, the detective said.

Whitt described the shootings:

* On Friday afternoon, Olga Alvarez of Highland Park was slain while she and her husband, a suspected gang member, were driving north on Figueroa Street near Avenue 57. A minivan pulled beside the couple's car and a passenger fired several shots, fatally wounding Alvarez in the head and wounding her husband.

* Early Sunday, Daniel Estrada Jr., 17, of Cypress Park was slain while riding in the back seat of a car. Two youths, one armed with a rifle, approached the car on foot and fired a shot as the car pulled away.

The fatal shooting of a 16-year-old boy Monday was Glendale's sixth homicide of the year, the first attributed to gang violence.

"We've had a lot of near-misses, but this is the first time they've killed anybody," Glendale Police Sgt. Russ Pierce said.

The victim, Oscar Hernandez, 16, of Glendale was walking with friends on Lake Street when shots were fired from a passing vehicle. He died of a head wound. A 12-year-old companion, whose name was withheld, was wounded in an arm and leg.

No arrests have been made in any of the incidents.

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