More than 100 Carson residents joined city leaders and sheriff’s officials to speak out against gang violence Saturday, four days after a 16-year-old boy was killed two blocks from his home in a suspected gang-related attack.
Reginald “Reggie” Hays was fatally shot in the chest while listening to an iPod in his car parked in the 17500 block of Harwick Court on Tuesday afternoon in the Stevenson Village area of Carson, according to sheriff’s officials and family members.
Hays was a known gang member, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Todd Rogers. At the time of the shooting, Rogers said, the teenager was sitting outside a home that sheriff’s deputies had raided in June and identified as a site of gang activity.
“The problem is when you have active gang members, they’re going to generate enemies,” Rogers said. “You reap what you sow.”
John Tucker, Reggie’s uncle, who attended the community meeting at Stevenson Park, said he had become increasingly worried about Reggie in the last few months, and last month told him to avoid hanging around “negative people.” Tucker, 32, said he asked Reggie if he was a gang member, and Reggie denied it.
“I wish I would have been more involved in Reggie’s life,” Tucker said. He added that Reggie wanted to become a carpenter and loved building model cars.
The teenager’s sister, Dana, 40, recalled Reggie as “a little sweetheart” who was respectful to adults.
“He didn’t deserve this. No one did,” she said. “I miss him so much.... I keep thinking I wish I could see my brother, and I can’t.”
Some residents in this working- and middle-class community said they believed parents need to do a better job watching their children to prevent them from getting into trouble or joining a gang.
“We shouldn’t have to tolerate this,” said Glenn Ponton, 48, who lives nearby.
After the meeting, Carson City Councilman Mike Gipson, who lives in Stevenson Village, said he planned to work with businesses and unions to see what job opportunities can be made available for local youth, and he planned a community march.
“People need to see a fortress of men willing to stand up and take back this community,” Gipson said. “We can’t un-ring a bell, we can’t put the bullet back in the chamber. But we can save other kids.”
Officials also urged gang members to leave gangs, and said family members can call the Sheriff’s Department for help.
Overall violent crime in Carson has dropped 4% so far this year compared with the same period a year ago, said Rogers of the Sheriff’s Department. But so far this year, there have been seven homicides citywide; last year at this time, there were six.
Mayor Jim Dear said he believed gang violence in 2007 has been much reduced from its levels 15 to 20 years ago. But he said that the problem has not disappeared.
“They’re firing guns thinking that’s somehow normal,” Dear said. “We can’t ignore it or it will be a disaster for the future of our city.”
At the end of the meeting, Dear announced that a drive-by shooting had occurred about two miles away, near East Turmont Street and Caney Avenue.
At least one person was injured, suffering a minor grazing wound, but the victim was uncooperative with sheriff’s deputies.
Dear said that there was a strong suspicion that the shooters live in Stevenson Village, and that it could have been a retaliatory attack.
“It shows the urgency of the efforts we have to put forth,” Dear said.