Gang Bill Could Be In Trouble

Gang Bill Could Be In Trouble
YAKIMA -- More random victims caught-up in the midst of our gang problem.
Two young men were mugged and shot last night near the Taco Bell by 8th and Walnut.
These latest victims may not be the only collateral damage in Yakima's gang problem.
There's new concern the effort to beef up laws may be on life support in Olympia.

It's becoming the white noise that permeates a growing number of local neighborhoods, shots, sirens, and the pain that follows.

Thursday night's shooting near Walnut and 8th targeted two innocent young men... One on leave from his new post with the Washington National Guard.

Teresa doesn't want us using her last name but is the mother of one of the victims.

" What my son said was mom, they wanted to kill us."

She is frustrated over the lack or progress in neutralizing gang violence here.

Teresa remembers when Attorney General Rob McKenna came to Yakima in November. Once again, hopes were high that his gang bill, with it's three tier approach of prevention, intervention and enforcement would finally gain real traction. Instead, the bill is slipping away item by item.

What's killing this year's gang bill aside from politics, is purse strings. The state has no money and without money there can be no prevention or intervention tied to the enforcement tier of this bill. And that's giving opponents of the bill all they need to whittle away at tougher enforcement until there's almost nothing left."

Within a few blocks of this latest gang attack, a member of the Soreno street gang agreed to talk to me about what he sees as the best way to cap the violence until the rest of the state finally gets on board.

"If cops want to crack down more on people white, red or blue for punishment, for me, that's good for me," said Fransisco Javier Cuevas. "I'm good with that."

Javier Cholico has joined the ranks of the near hopeless. The growing display of graffiti on his fence also tells him, enforcement is key... The rest can wait.

" These kids are 13,14 years old so what can you do? You can't do nothing to it. You can close your eyes and call the police and they can't do much."

For McKenna's part, hope exists critical parts of his bill can survive. Specifically, civil protection and nuisance abatement orders. He's convince the legislative backing for these are strong.

"The cities are asking us for these. They want these tools so they can kick gang members out of neighborhoods or prevent them from operating their criminal enterprises in those neighborhoods."

Teresa lives in one of those neighborhoods. The shots she hears every night, the sirens that race by and the pain that follows is now hers.

"Here's a kid, he's a straight A student, he's just gotten into the national guard. Here's a kid who knows what he has to do to go to college. And now it's all been put on hold because of some stupid people who have to do something like this."

She too is angry and confused over the lack of urgency coming out of Olympia. She too wonders how many of the good kids have to suffer while the bad ones thrive.

McKenna says it's no longer enough to call your own representatives in Olympia.
It's time to start calling lawmakers from other districts as well.
By the way, both victims in last night's shooting are expected to fully recover.
Teresa's son suffered a punctured lung, and broken rib.