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Gang targeted 'typical American family' in hate crime, officials say

January 25, 2013 | 10:02 am

Jeffrey Aguilar, 19, and Efren Marquez, 21.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials say they are continuing to investigate alleged efforts by two Latino gang members to drive a black family from their Compton home.

“This is a typical American family,” said Sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker of the victims who recently moved into a home on 153rd Street in Compton. “It is unsettling at the very least."

Jeffrey Aguilar, 19, of Compton, and Efren Marquez, 21, a resident of Riverside County, were arrested Thursday on suspicion of repeated attempts to terrorize the family, which moved in to the neighborhood on New Year's Eve.

Marquez, 21, allegedly pointed a gun at one of the family members and threatened to shoot him while he was allegedly being beaten with a metal pipe by Aguilar on New Year's Eve, authorities said.

The two were among a group of gang members who allegedly repeatedly rode by the family’s house yelling racial insults and threats and insisting that they move out, sheriff's officials said.

"It is tragic that it can happen in America, let alone L.A. County," Parker said. "We are not going to tolerate it. We are going to hold accountable everyone involved. We are not done with this investigation.”

Parker said the alleged attacks and threats by local Latino gang members were clearly racially motivated. The harassment and violence began the day the family moved into the house. That day, one member of the family, walking on the street, was confronted by four Latino gang members who drove up in a black SUV, Parker said.

They told the man that they were gang members and that his family was not allowed to live in their area because they were black, a sheriff's report said. The gang members shouted racial insults and violent threats until the man ran for home, according to the report. He was chased by the gang members, who then climbed from the SUV and began beating him with metal pipes, according to the report.

"They repeatedly used the 'n' word, then threatened violence before using a pipe to beat the man and pointed guns at him,” Parker said. “Later they repeatedly drove by the home threatening family members with racial epithets and warning them to get out of the neighborhood.”

During the incident Marquez pointed the gun while Aguilar beat the victim with a pipe, the sheriff's report said.

Sheriff’s detectives have searched 11 locations and say an investigation into the attacks is continuing. During one search of a Compton residence Thursday, they arrested a juvenile gang member, who fought with a deputy and attempted to remove the deputy's pistol.

Compton, with a population of about 97,000, was predominately black for many years. It has gone through enormous demographic change, and is now 65% Latino, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. The city is 32.9% African American.

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Photo: Jeffrey Aguilar, 19, of Compton, and Efren Marquez, 21, a resident of Riverside County, were arrested Thursday. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

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