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After spate of killings, Wilmington says it's 'time for a change'

March 2, 2012 | 12:43 pm

 

This post has been corrected. Please see below for details.

More than 200 Wilmington residents crammed into the auditorium of Hawaiian Avenue Elementary on Thursday evening to address the recent violence that has gripped the community. 

Before the start of the community meeting, one neighbor loudly echoed the sentiment of many of the people in the packed room.

"It's time for a change," said Barbara Zepeda, 43, a longtime Wilmington resident.  "Things have to change here.

Since January, seven people have been killed in Wilmington and several others have been wounded in a rash of shootings, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.  And just on Thursday evening, a drive-by shooting wounded a coach who was on a field at Figueroa and Q streets.  A bullet struck the victim in the arm, police said. 

City Councilman Joe Buscaino joined the LAPD to update the residents on the homicide investigations, as well as plead for witnesses to step forward. 

"None of this occurred in a vacuum," said LAPD Captain William Hayes.  "There are people out there that saw bits and pieces of it and they need to help us, stepping forward and bring the information to us."

In the front row, Maria Christina Perez dabbed her moist eyes as she held a makeshift sign with a picture of her slain daughter, Cristian Zuget Alvarez, 28, who was found dead Jan. 2

Many residents expressed the fear that has blanketed the area.  The councilman was asked if it was safe for someone's 16-year-old son to walk home from school by himself. 

"We can't do it alone," said Buscaino, who was elected in January.  "We need each and every one of you.  We need all the eyes and ears we can to prevent these vicious acts in our community. "

The LAPD has organized Walks on Wednesdays, where community members can show their presence from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in  an effort to take back the streets.  The one-time program has been expanded to weekly walks that will start March 14.

[For the record, 8:21 p.m. March 2: An earlier version of this post incorrectly gave the first name of slaying victim Cristian Zuget Alvarez as Cristin.]

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-- Angel Jennings

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