A deadly police shooting of a 14-year-old in Boyle Heights is focusing attention on the challenges that teens face as police respond to a rise of crime in the city.
"I'm really heartbroken," said 19-year-old Nancy Flores, a student who works with younger teens in an after-school program in Boyle Heights. She said she and her friends are the ones walking to school, going to the parks and dealing directly with crime and the police.
"It's affecting us," she said.
Police said gang enforcement officers went to the corner of Chicago Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue Tuesday evening after getting a call about possible gang-related vandalism. After chasing one of the suspects, police shot and killed the teen, Jesse James Romero. Police said they were returning fire and found a gun at the scene. The incident is under investigation.
"It's hard to think about youth getting pulled over, but that's a real fear that we face when police are in our communities," said Flores, who is part of the L.A. for Youth Campaign and the advocacy group Building Healthy Communities.
She said the solution requires broader improvements to the area, such as more markets with healthy food, safe recreational parks and centers and educational opportunity. All that requires work from many players.
"We should expect more from our communities, from our council members, from the city," she said.