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March 8th, 2010
08:56 PM ET

Homicide in Hollenbeck

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

Five years ago we spent months talking to police and gang members while reporting in the Hollenbeck division of Los Angeles. It’s a place where thousands of young men and women were – and still are – members of gangs.

There is a long history of gangs in Hollenbeck, some current gang members have grandfathers who were once involved in La Vida Loca, “the crazy life.” Since then, gang killings have dropped in Los Angeles, and we wanted to return to Hollenbeck to see what’s happening there now.

We tracked down some of the gang members we talked to five years ago, and re-connected with cops and social workers who are trying to reduce the strength of gangs in the neighborhood.

But even though killings are down, we found that the code of silence is still strong in Hollenbeck, and it’s letting people get away with murder.

Police can only do so much to solve crimes, they need citizens to come forward and report what they’ve seen and what they’ve heard. Too often that doesn’t happen in Hollenbeck.

Tonight we’ll show you a drive-by shooting, caught on tape, but months after the murder, it remains unsolved. A young man shot to death in front of his friends, but none of them will stand up and point a finger at the killer. Homicide in Hollenbeck starts tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Brad Wilson

    They should not allow the gangs to have such power. This is America, not a 3rd World country. We need to declare war on these thugs and eliminate gangs once and for all!!!!!

    March 9, 2010 at 4:14 am |
  2. stella

    I'm glad to see someone is bothering to take a look at the ongoing gang problems. I would like to know, how many documented gang members are also illegal immigrants? I have a feeling there are more than what you would expect.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:35 am |
  3. Bill larsen

    As a retired criminal prosecutor after 39 years in service, I urge you to more clearly identify the area involved for the world as Los Angeles County, California. When the piece came on, my retired school teacher wife said to me: Where is Hollenbeck? Anderson, we think you are the greatest.

    March 8, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  4. Maria kohyar

    I always wonder why aren't people talking? Is because they really are scared for thier own lives, and the their loved ones, or is it because LAPD can't ensure their saftey once they co-operate with them?

    March 8, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  5. diana

    thx so much for FINALLY showing footage on HAITI, praying for the people there. not to sing bob marley or anything but man you guys totally dropped the ball on haiti. people are suffering, come on you millionaires and billionaires in america, lets pass health care and buy some hella nice tents for haiti.

    March 8, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
  6. obl

    If America didn't make life so hard we wouldn't have such violence.

    March 8, 2010 at 11:23 pm |
  7. Correction Hura..

    I am a lieutenant with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and this is the atomosphere we are in today. If not for cameras inside and outside of the walls and in our neighbor hoods people are just afraid of being a witness. They are feared from attacts of the people they love. The prison I work at are several states away but make no mistake these EME carnales can still reach out and touch people on their neighborhoods on southern california. Federal indictments have worked to a point but LAPD and LASD need to cooperate more with the Federal indictments. The only problem with this also is that it spreads the power of the EME to other states were these Carnals are housed in Federal Penitentiaries. Prosecution Attorneys like Manzella that would go after guys like Alex Pee Wee Aguire from the Avenues and others in RICO Cases that put away some of the Gang Shot Callers or EME members. Who knew that Luis Huero Buff Flores had an idea to make hispanic inmates be a gang in prison for protection. Who knew this would be a major role 50 years later where city gangs and prison gangs would be taxed and made shot callers wealthy enough to send there family to college and afford home to buy while being behind bars in a 6 by 8 foot cell in a special housing unit.

    March 8, 2010 at 10:33 pm |
  8. Kelly

    Regardless if ur in a gang or not, a friend is a friend..couldnt they call police & remain anonamous?

    March 8, 2010 at 10:23 pm |
  9. Ricardo

    Hello Anderson,

    Thanks for the reporting, but how about covering some of the numerous positive stories emanating from our community. We who endure these troubles with their histories of neglect would all appreciate not being broadcast to the world only as troubled people in a troubled land. We have and deserve a new and brighter narrative to be shared.

    March 8, 2010 at 10:21 pm |
  10. Elizabeth Trevino, San Antonio TX

    It really amazes me that gangs still exist and for what? They claim streets and hate other gangs for whatever reason. It's like all the governments all over the world who think they are the best country and fight to be respect and to be feared and could care less whether there terrority and the people they claim to be protecting are happy or safe. I might be over doing my comparison but that is how i see it. I live in a neighborhood where drug dealers, hookers, and gangs live and even though we may see cops from time to time nothing is ever fixed. And I've lived there all my life. And everyone stays to themselves in fear of something bad happening to them. I know i won't say anything cause i don't want to endanger my sons life. He might have to go to school here

    March 8, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  11. Corey Lancaster

    The issue with gangs is payback. The only positive about the code of silence is the end of the fight. If one speaks, the violence continues. As someone who grew up near East St. Louis MO. I can say that I am familiar with such activities.

    Now as a father for the first time, I can only imagine the pain of the father in you story.

    With the economy as it is, we can only pray for less violence but unfortunately I am preparing for more in such economic times.

    March 8, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
  12. Isabel Siaba

    Hello Anderson!

    Interesting to know about the Guangues. This is a common problem in many large cities, in various places around the world.

    You write that the police needs citizens to come forward and report what they've seen and what they've heard.

    I ask you: do the police provide protection for those who cooperate and speak what they know? How does the police protect these witnesses?

    Thanks! See you later ...

    March 8, 2010 at 9:49 pm |
  13. kiga

    It's just a sad reality that people don't realize that they're only making the situation worse by remaining silent.

    March 8, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
  14. Paula, Colorado

    Anderson,
    It's great to see your writing this evening.
    Five years seems such a long time. I imagine it would be difficult for those in Hollenbeck to break with a strong history of gang involvement. It will be fascinating to hear your reports. I'm looking forward to your program.

    March 8, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
  15. P.A.

    Homicide in Hollenbeck has remained one of my all time favorite reports that you have done; very pleased to see that you are doing a follow up. Not that many journalists return to check back on folks; that you take the initiative to do so is awesome. As a viewer, it is the follow through that keeps me coming back. Thanks. Can't wait to see your report.

    March 8, 2010 at 9:17 pm |
  16. Annie Kate

    It's sad that people won't come forward to help stop the violence but fear can be a terrible deterrent. Hopefully, one day one brave soul will come forward and name names, dates and places and the police will have the good sense to be very sure that nothing happens to that person. Once it happens and can be shown that its not a sure ticket to death, others will do it too. At least that is my hope...

    March 8, 2010 at 9:13 pm |

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