Around 1:30 a.m. in the early morning hours of May 8, reports were called in of shots being fired in Santa Ana. Police arrived at an apartment complex in the 500 block of East Pine Street, near Oak Street. An 18 year-old man, Bruno Lopez Ugalde, was pronounced dead at the scene with a gunshot wound to the chest.
With the Santa Ana Building a Healthy Community (SABHC) initiative's mission including safety in the city's neighborhoods, the issue came up a week later at a monthly steering committee meeting of the coalition's members.
"A few of the residents on the committee had been directly or indirectly affected by recent violent incidents," says SABHC Project Coordinator Nancy Mejia. "In a span of a day on April 27, there was a shooting near Santa Ana High School where a youth was wounded and there was also, near Willard Intermediate and El Sol Charter Academy, a shooting and a stabbing within about an hour of each other." A 21 year-old man was left dead and two other were injured before nightfall.
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Then the fatal killing at the apartment complex on Pine followed. "These are areas where we are all working in," Mejia adds. "A lot of us have been directly affected or work with youth who were friends with some of these kids and a lot of them feel unsafe." The close proximity to local schools and youth caught in the crossfire, including a Santa Ana High School sophomore, underscored the urgency to address the violence. "The community members and a lot of the organizations said we need to send a direct message to this whole community, to the youth and the children."
Latino Health Access and SABHC responded by organizing a 'Walk for Peace' to let the children of the city know that violence, no matter how often it occurs, is always an abnormality. Today starting a 5 p.m. residents will be marching from Santa Ana High School at 520 West Walnut Street to Sasscer Park on the corner of 4th and Ross Street with the hope of unifying different sectors of the community, from families, teachers, organizations, police, and city officials, in the name of opening a dialogue on finding viable solutions.
At 6:30 p.m. a program will conclude the event with a local pastor, parent and youth giving their testimonies at the park. A Community Forum for Peace is slated to follow-up the Walk on Sunday, June 10 at 2pm at the offices of Latino Health Access. See you there!