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March 26th, 2010
11:15 AM ET

Photo Gallery: Hollenbeck, five years later

Program Note: Don't miss our AC360° special investigation, "Gangs of Hollenbeck," Friday at 11 p.m. ET and Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

AC360°

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.

Take a look at this photo gallery and learn more about the situation in Hollenbeck.


CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviews Milton Bueno in a patio area where his 20 year old son Steven was killed in a drive by shooting in 2009.


LAPD detective Dewaine Fields explains to Anderson Cooper that witness intimidation, a code of silence, and fear of retaliation is a common dilemma that prevents cops from solving thirty percent of the gang related killings in Hollenbeck.


Richard Moya, a former gang member explains to CNN’s Anderson Cooper how he survived being shot six times during his twenty years in a gang.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • Hollenbeck • Homicide in Hollenbeck
March 26th, 2010
11:14 AM ET

In memory of my beloved brothers Ronald Brock and Angel Candia

Program Note: Don't miss our AC360° special investigation, "Gangs of Hollenbeck," Friday at 11 p.m. ET and Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

Adela's brother, Angel Candia.
Adela's brother, Angel Candia.
Adela's brother, Ronald Brock.
Adela's brother, Ronald Brock.

Adela Brock

A little over eight years ago, I never envisioned that my family and I would experience such a tragedy. It wasn’t until those two unforgettable nights where I felt that life had proven me wrong because we tend to grow up thinking that our family will always be with us. Everything inside me had shut down and it felt like a part of me had died with each tragedy that occurred.

I was lost but I had only a moment to feel the grief for I knew that my mother was in need of me. I needed to emotionally support her because for a few years it felt like I had lost her too. My mother grew increasingly depressed and had disconnected herself from the world. It was up to me to guide her and help her carry on.

Adela Brock.
Adela Brock.

There were many times when I wanted to give up and disappear from it all, but I reminded myself that my mother did not ask for this. Filled with anger and confusion, I could not let her see that I was slowly falling apart. I needed to be strong for her. I wanted my mother back.

It has been eight years since I have seen Angel and Ronny but I always carry that memory of them smiling back at me as I drift away. To most people in the world Angel was just a gang member and Ronny was just a Marine but to me, they were my brothers. They were the ones who helped raise me, provided me with guidance and stepped in as male role models. They had a side to them that most people didn’t know or wouldn’t even notice. They were gentle at heart and very family oriented. I know this because they contributed to making me into the person I am today. They helped guide me onto the right path and I know it’s up to me to continue it on my own.

I recently graduated from California State University, Los Angeles with a degree in Health and Human Services. I plan to continue my education and help those who are in need of emotional and psychological support as a tribute to those who have come to the aid of my family during difficult times.

Soledad Brock with her two sons, Ronald Brock and Angel  Candia.
Soledad Brock with her two sons, Ronald Brock and Angel Candia.

My mother grew to be a strong woman and we continue to support each other. We no longer take moments with one another for granted and we live each day as if it were our last. I want my mother to know just how thankful I am for her tremendous impact on my life.

Though these past years have been difficult, she has never let me down and that makes her the greatest mother in the world. As I continue to go through this journey in life, I will always think of Angel and Ronny and carry them with me. I don’t believe I could ever let my brothers go because I know in my heart, they never truly left but what I do believe is that one day, we’ll all get to hold each other again and letting go will not be an option this time. I have developed a phrase that serves to give me strength on the days I think of them and feel lost: They were introduced into our world for only a moment but we’ll soon be welcomed into theirs forever.

Tragedy occurs in this world everyday and my message to everyone involved is that you’re not alone. No matter how we deal or grieve in these situations, there’s hope left in all of us that we will continue to find the strength within to reach our fullest potential while still keeping their memory alive.

I hope you and your loved ones find the same strength as my mother and I have discovered to live a long and peaceful life together.


Filed under: Hollenbeck • Homicide in Hollenbeck
March 25th, 2010
11:37 PM ET

Gangs of Hollenbeck, five years later

Program Note: Don't miss an AC360° special investigation, "Gangs of Hollenbeck," this Friday at 11 p.m. ET and Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

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 gangsters themselves. 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.

FULL POST

March 12th, 2010
11:34 PM ET

Homicide in Hollenbeck: Helping gang members break away

Father Gregory Boyle is the founder of Homebody Industries.
Father Gregory Boyle is the founder of Homebody Industries.

Stan Wilson
CNN Producer

In Hollenbeck, breaking away from the gang life can be more difficult than getting into it. But, there is treatment available. At Homeboy Industries, thousands of troubled young men and woman have made that transition out of gang life.

The agency was founded by Father Gregory Boyle, a Catholic priest. It provides counseling, job training, and also free tattoo removal. To broaden his outreach, Boyle recently moved into a centralized location near downtown Los Angeles and opened a full service restaurant and bakery.

Instead of demonizing gangsters, Father Boyle embraces them, regardless of their past. He says it has allowed him to reach out to more young people at risk. “This place is soaked with a sense of redemption,” said Boyle. “I have several of them who, not that you write off but, in your head you toy with the idea that I’m not sure he’s ever going to be able to steer this thing in another direction and low and behold they do.”

FULL POST


Filed under: Hollenbeck • Homicide in Hollenbeck
March 11th, 2010
08:00 AM ET

Gang loyalty and rivalry led to death

Program Note: Five years ago we reported on gang violence in the Los Angeles community of Hollenbeck. This week, all week, we follow up on the neighborhood. Through the eyes of cops, criminals and crusaders, we witness the corrosive effects of violence and what's being done to prevent it. We take you inside the investigations of homicides as they unfold in a community where 30 percent of all killings remain unsolved. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

 Gang member Gabriel Ayala was killed in October 2004. Police believe Ayala was killed by a member of his own gang.
Gang member Gabriel Ayala was killed in October 2004. Police believe Ayala was killed by a member of his own gang.

Stan Wilson

CNN Producer

Los Angeles Police Detective Dewaine Field has solved dozens of gang-related murders in his thirty year law enforcement career. As supervisor of the gang unit in Hollenbeck, part of his job is breaking the code of silence and persuading informants to come forward. Fields says breaking that code in a gang-related murder is one of the most difficult challenges of solving a murder case.

In Hollenbeck, nearly thirty percent of the gang-related killings go unsolved because witnesses or informants refuse to talk. Even the perception of breaking the gang code of silence within a gang can result in death, says Fields.

The unsolved murder of gang member Gabriel Ayala is the type of case detective Fields is referring to. On October 16, 2004, Ayala was shot in the head at close range just moments before CNN cameras arrived in his Hollenbeck neighborhood. Fields says he knew Ayala well and used to serve warrants at Ayala's residence. "Gabriel's time was coming, he was too active, he played too hard trying to be too tough in his gang and it caught up to him," said Fields.

When Fields first examined the crime scene, he told homicide detectives it looked like an inside job. "Gabriel had a gun in his waist and never pulled it out and that tells me that he knew whoever killed him." Fields believes the events leading up to Ayala's execution began long ago.

Two years before Ayala was killed, a rival gang member, Francisco Sanchez was approached by two gunmen on a Hollenbeck area street. According to court records, the first suspect shot Sanchez multiple times. As Sanchez fell to the ground, a second suspect approached him and shot Sanchez again, records show.

Authorities suspect the murder of Sanchez was in retaliation for the killing of a rival two days earlier.

FULL POST


Filed under: Homicide in Hollenbeck
March 9th, 2010
10:15 PM ET

Two brothers, two homicides, still no justice

Program Note: Five years ago we reported on gang violence in the Los Angeles community of Hollenbeck. This week, all week, we follow up on the neighborhood. Through the eyes of cops, criminals and crusaders, we witness the corrosive effects of violence and what's being done to prevent it. We take you inside the investigations of homicides as they unfold in a community where 30 percent of all killings remain unsolved. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Angel Candia and his younger brother Ronald Brock were killed in a gang related shooting in the same year.
Angel Candia and his younger brother Ronald Brock were killed in a gang related shooting in the same year.

Stan Wilson
CNN Producer

When Soledad Brock visits the Odd Fellows cemetery in the Hollenbeck community of Los Angeles, she mourns the death of her two sons, Ronald Brock and Angel Candia. One was a U.S. Marine with no ties to gangs. The other was a gang member. Both were victims of gang violence – gunned down in the same year, in front of the house in which they grew up.

“People tell me its time to move on and forget but I don’t think anyone understands that your whole life was gone seven years ago,” said Brock.

Seven years after their deaths, five years after we first reported their stories, detectives believe they know who killed one of Brock’s sons but there is a surprise development in both cases.

Soledad Brock raised her sons, Angel and Ronald, as a single mother in the Hollenbeck community just east of downtown Los Angeles. She said she tried to keep her sons close to home and away from the lure of street gangs. “You hear of people getting shot and people getting killed and I didn’t want that for my boys,” said Brock.

Ronald managed to avoid that path but Angel joined one of Hollenbeck’s 34 street gangs. The more entrenched Angel became in the gang, the more he wanted something better for his younger brother, so he urged Ronald to enlist in the Marines, his mother said.

FULL POST


Filed under: Homicide in Hollenbeck
March 8th, 2010
10:10 PM ET

Homicide in Hollenback: Why a killing caught on tape can go unsolved

Program Note: Five years ago we reported on gang violence in the Los Angeles community of Hollenbeck. This week, all week, we follow up on the neighborhood. Through the eyes of cops, criminals and crusaders, we witness the corrosive effects of violence and what's being done to prevent it. We take you inside the investigations of homicides as they unfold in a community where 30 percent of all killings remain unsolved. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.


Milton Bueno looks outside his bedroom window toward the drive way where his son Steven was shot and killed.

Stan Wilson
CNN Producer

Hollenbeck sits 15-square miles east of downtown Los Angeles. Although nearly one-third of its residents live at the poverty level, and unemployment is twice the national rate, Hollenbeck is a vibrant predominately Latino community. Faith is a central part of the community, traditions run deep and ‘mom-and-pop’ stores line the streets.

But there is another side of Hollenbeck, often invisible to outsiders. It’s a place where every block is claimed by a street gang. Police and prosecutors often call gang crime a form of terrorism — because gangs use violence to intimidate entire communities.

While gang-related homicides declined 60 percent over the past seven years, LAPD detective Dewaine Fields has seen gang crime go up and down. Fields has spent more than 10 years supervising the LAPD’s Hollenbeck gang unit. He said he was not surprised when five people were murdered in a single week last summer.

FULL POST


Filed under: Homicide in Hollenbeck
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.