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.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/09/t1.brockbrothers.jpg caption="Angel Candia and his younger brother Ronald Brock were killed in a gang related shooting in the same year." width=300 height=169]
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.
After boot camp training at Camp Pendleton and the terrorist attacks of September 11th, Ronald told his mother that he was about to deploy overseas. “I honestly didn't want him to go. I didn't want my son killed,” Brock said.
Before his deployment, Ronald returned home for a weekend visit with his family and girlfriend. Brock said Ronald was planning to propose to his girlfriend but when he arrived at his mother’s house, he was confronted by gang members. Moments later there were gunshots.
“I remember running outside and I was calling for him and he didn’t answer,” she said. “I think as a mother your reaction is, you’re waiting for him to be standing.” She said he was shot twice in the head, four times in the back and his hand was shot off. Ronald was just 19-years-old when he was killed. He was buried with military honors.
For seven months, Brock said she fell into a deep depression and rarely ventured outside of her house. Then, one night she was haunted a second time when her son Angel was apparently surprised by rival gang members. According to the autopsy report, more than 70 rounds were fired. One of those bullets was fatal.
Detective Dewaine Fields, supervisor of the Hollenbeck gang unit believes Ronald’s death was a terrible case of mistaken identity. “He was in his brother’s gang neighborhood where his home is,” said Fields. “He had his head shaved because he’s a United States Marine. Most of the gangsters have shaved heads, they thought he was a gang member. And there’s no evidence whatsoever to lead me to believe he was. Wrong place, the wrong time, mistaken identity.”
Detective Fields told CNN that no one has come forward with information about the case. “We’ve narrowed it down to two enemy gangs, two enemy gangs and two people in each of those enemy gangs that we’ve narrowed it down to or that we believe are probably responsible in some way or another.. but we’re hearing two different stories,” he said.
Detective Fields says he needs an eyewitness or another gang member to come forward and identify Ronald Brock’s killer.
But gangs only need to make a few examples to send a message. Take the case of Bobby Singleton, a homeless man who was murdered to prevent him from testifying against a gang member. Singleton’s body was discovered under a Los Angeles bridge. He had been shot in the head and neck five times. Police say the murder was designed to send a warning for others not to speak to police.
In the shooting death of Angel Candia, detective Fields believes he knows who killed him, but there is a dilemma. “He was approached by a couple different gang members, rival gang members, he and another fellow and, a major gunfight ensued,” said Fields.
Fields says the problem is that although he knows how many guns were involved he doesn’t know who pulled the trigger first. He said it’s even possible that Angel shot first and that he was “hit by friendly fire because he was shot in the back of the head.”
Fields went on to say that although the people involved were arrested, the District Attorney decided not to file the case because of the ambiguity. He says he thinks witnesses are hesitant to say who pulled the trigger.
Letting go in Hollenbeck is hard for Soledad Brock. Her sons now lie side by side in a cemetery.
But there is a surprise twist in Ronald Brock’s life and tragic death. Two days before he was killed, Ronald learned his girlfriend was pregnant.
His daughter, Ronnie Angeline Brock is now 7- years-old and is named after her father and uncle. “She looks like him the way she smiles the way she talks the way she walks,” Brock said. “He would have been a great father.”
Each morning Soledad Brock says a prayer for justice and a prayer for her sons Ronald and Angel and for the little girl who will grow up never knowing either of them.
Filed under: Homicide in Hollenbeck
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