With 4 dead, Norwalk residents plead for peace

Chris Demendoza

Chris Demendoza

NORWALK – Norwalk city officials and law enforcement are scrambling to put an end to a recent rash of violent crimes that has plagued the city over the last week.

On Friday, the body of a man was found in a residence on the 12000 block of Nava Street. CBS-LA reported that the man, later identified as 23 year-old Paul Joseph Rivera, was pronounced dead at the scene after being found in a home after authorities responded to a call about gunfire.

The discovery is being investigated as a homicide.

The very next day, one man was killed and another injured during a shooting at Gerdes Park in the 14700 block of Gridley Road.

According to Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department (LASD), the two victims were standing in the parking lot of the location with a group of males when and adult male approached and opened fire. The suspect then fled on foot to a waiting dark colored sedan which was last seen heading southbound on Gridley and out of view.

Paramedics pronounced one of the victims dead at the scene, however the other man was hospitalized and is in stable condition, expected to survive his injuries.

Monday saw more violence, as four men were shot and wounded at Hermosillo Park in what authorities believe to be a gang-related incident.

According to Sgt. Ralph Gama of the sheriff’s Norwalk Station, the four victims were sitting on a bench at the local park when three men got out of the vehicle and started shooting at them. One of the men remains in critical but stable condition, while the other three are in stable condition.

Several congregation members from various local churches met at Hermosillo Park Tuesday night in order take part in a “Stop the Violence” rally and prayer vigil that was called in response to the recent crimes.

Pastor Ed Rodriguez from Miracle Worship Center said that he’s never seen violence occur one day after the other.

“I had a phone call today where there was a couple of family members who were scared to bring their kids to the park,” said Rodriguez. “There’s no more safe haven here, and we want to rebuild that and bring a safe haven to the local cities and make sure that our kids and our youth are secure, especially when they’re here with their families.”

One of the speakers at the rally, Alex Valdez, spoke of his past within the gang lifestyle.

“I was a gang member at a very young age, 16 years old; most kids start even younger,” said Valdez. “I thought being the ‘downest’ dude would get me somewhere in this barrio, or in this hood…I had to realize that I had to put these childish things away because I’m gonna either end up in two places: behind bars or in a casket.”

One of the individuals who attended the rally, Roberta Rodriguez, has become fed up with the violence in Norwalk.

“I’m a mother that’s lost a child; I know the feeling. I know what it’s like to hear gunshots every day. This is getting ridiculous…people are coming into Norwalk and just taking rampage,” said Rodriguez. “We gotta keep praying, and ask God to put an armor around this whole city and take control of what’s going on. We can’t have any more people dying. This is what? Seven people shot in less than a week? Cause of what?”    

Shortly after the rally concluded, the bodies of two more victims were found shot to death in a residence on the 12300 block of Gettysburg Drive Tuesday evening. The victims were identified by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detectives as 49 year-old Walter Vincente and 24 year-old Andrew Vincente.

ABC-7 reported the men as father and son, however that information was not included in LASD’s official release. At this time, no suspect information has been given and no weapon has been recovered.

Investigations are ongoing, but at this time there is not sufficient evidence for investigators to believe that each of the four individual incidents are related.

Councilmember Marcel Rodarte acknowledged the recent string of violence by releasing a statement via his official Facebook page.

“City staff and the city council are well aware of the increase in violence and it is unacceptable. We have already allocated additional resources from our public safety and sheriff’s department to solve these crimes and curb violence in our city...I am doing my part as a council member and as a resident. I am asking that each and every one of you the same.”

The city of Norwalk also released a special bulletin on the city website, stating the specific measures that the city is taking in response to the increased violence.

Residents concerned about the recent crime wave can speak to Public Safety Manager Joshua Yordt or Management Analyst Nicole Amescua by reaching them through the Public Safety office at (562) 929-5732.