Crime & Justice

Neighborhood mourns 14-year-old killed by police

Vigil and protest for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Vigil and protest for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Susanica Tam for KPCC
Vigil and protest for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Jennifer Mendes, 6, attends a vigil and protest for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, and holds a photo of her older brother, Juan Mendez who was killed by police in February of 2016.
Susanica Tam for KPCC
Vigil and protest for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Vigil and protest against police violence for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Susanica Tam for KPCC
Vigil and protest for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Vigil and protest against police violence for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Susanica Tam for KPCC
Vigil and protest for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Vigil and protest against police violence for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Susanica Tam for KPCC
Vigil and protest for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Boyle Heights residents gather to watch as a crowd holding a vigil for Jesse Romero to protest police violence marches through their neighborhood on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Susanica Tam for KPCC
Vigil and protest for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Vigil and protest against police violence for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Susanica Tam for KPCC
Vigil and protest for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Vigil for Jesse Romero and a protest against police violence makes a stop in front of the Hollenbeck Police Station in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Susanica Tam for KPCC


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Boyle Heights neighbors gathered in a vigil Wednesday night to mourn a 14-year-old boy killed by Los Angeles police officers Tuesday. 

The crowd, much of it families with young children, gathered at Mariachi Plaza before marching to the local LAPD station, home of the Hollenbeck Division. From there, they continued to the spot, just off a busy shopping strip on Cesar Chavez Avenue, where Jesse Romero was killed. 

Organizer Caroyln Vera said the shooting shocked the neighborhood. 

"We heard what happened and realized that it was a 14-year old youth. I can’t talk about it without getting emotional," Vera said.

Carolyn Vera at a vigil and protest against police violence for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Carolyn Vera at a vigil and protest against police violence for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Susanica Tam for KPCC

Two officers responding to a graffiti call encountered Romero and another boy Tuesday night, just after 5p.m., according to police. Romero ran from police. On Tuesday, officials said the boy was armed and may have shot at officers before being killed. 

LAPD investigators are testing a loaded handgun found at the scene for DNA and fingerprints. 

Whatever happened, Maryann Aguirre said, the killing of someone so young is horrifying.

"My daughter is 8," she said. "So many community members they’re mothers they have sons."

Maryann Aguirre helped to organize a vigil and protest against police violence for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Maryann Aguirre helped to organize a vigil and protest against police violence for Jesse Romero in Boyle Heights, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Susanica Tam for KPCC

LAPD officers were posted at the vigil, but remained a quiet presence. As the night progressed, families of others killed in police shootings spoke, calling for prosecution of the officers involved. 

Mourners chanted, lit candles and read poetry at the site of Romero's death until around 9 pm.