Members of the quiet, tight-knit Crestview neighborhood in Pico-Robertson gathered for a candlelight vigil Thursday evening to give voice to fears regarding recent violence that has rocked the area.
The neighborhood was rattled on June 3 at about 10:15 p.m. when passengers of a black Ford Explorer fired more than a dozen shots into the second story of a duplex on the 1600 block of Wooster Street. No one was injured.
Some Crestview residents suspect that at least one inhabitant of the duplex is a gang member, and believe the shooting was gang related.
Although the West Los Angeles Police Department is conducting an investigation into Sunday's shooting, which they say will continue until an arrest is made, residents remain fearful.
"We were very fortunate that no one was hurt this past Sunday. We need to address and resolve this issue immediately because with gangs there is always retaliation and we can't have an innocent bystander get caught in the cross-fire." said Beth Ryan, president of the Crestview Neighborhood Association.
About 55 residents of this largely Orthodox Jewish neighborhood attended the candlelight vigil, held at the nearby Robertson Recreational Center at Airdrome Street and Robertson Boulevard.
Mention of guns and shooting were postponed as gatherers said prayers and joined together in singing Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind."
"We didn't want to wait until next Thursday until we did something about this," Ryan said.
The aim of Thursday's gathering, which was led by members of the local Crestview Neighborhood Association as well as 5th District City Councilman Jack Weiss, was held primarily to ease discomfort by showing solidarity as a neighborhood, Ryan said.
The Rev. Howard Dotson of Palms Westminster Presbyterian Church read a selection from the Book of Isaiah and an excerpt from Nelson Mandela's 1994 inaugural address as president of South Africa. No rabbis were able to attend due to Thursday evening prayer.
In the mid-1990s, the Crestview neighborhood experienced a wave of break ins and car thefts that subsequently declined, partly in response to Neighborhood Watch efforts and the area's changing demographic. But during the past two years, nonviolent crime, including graffiti tagging and burglaries, have increased.
In March, an off-duty Culver City police officer was shot in the jaw by gang members on the 1800 block of Holt Avenue, also in the Crestview area.
The West Los Angeles Gang Impact Team, a LAPD gang unit, confirmed that there have been other shooting incidents in the area in the past year. The unit has deployed its entire unit to the area, according to Lt. Armando Perez, who is in charge of the team. He said officers have increased their presence in the neighborhood, and they are interviewing gang members in custody and on probation.
"The West L.A. police department is doing everything they can, but their resources are very limited," Ryan said.
The Crestview Neighborhood Association set up a Neighborhood Watch system 15 years ago, when the association was established in response to local crimes. This week, residents hired a private protective services company to patrol the area and install cameras. Residents will meet again next week to discuss further courses of action.
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