By Kathi Bliss
Growing concerns about violence and crime have moved a neighborhood to rally against violence and crime.
A string of circumstances which finally culminated in a complaint of shots fired in the area of Chihuahua Street near Third is worrying neighbors and puzzling cops, as what appears to be an ongoing feud continues to grow more volatile.
Monitoring of radio traffic between officers suggests that a specific group of individuals is involved in the dispute. Apparently as things become more heated, would-be victims refuse to file charges, choosing instead to take matters in their own hands.
The situation, for some, may bring up memories of the June 2007 shooting death of 24-year-old John Edward “Eddie” Deleon, Sr., who was gunned down during a family barbecue.
During the trial of Jesse Manuel Davila and Dwayne Jesse Davila, testimony suggested the shooting was the culmination of what those close to the situation called an “ongoing family feud,” that finally exploded into violence.
The Davilas are serving 30 and 40 years, respectively, for their involvement in Deleon’s death.
The escalation of the situation, prompted with the gunshots allegedly fired on April 13, has moved leaders of the community referred to as “The East Side” and members of the Lockhart Police Department to action. They have set a meeting on Thursday evening, April 19, 2012, at Latino Hall at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the situation. The hope, according to representatives of the Lockhart Police Department, is to encourage neighbors to cooperate with the police department in helping to end the violence; a potential side-effect is helping the people of the neighborhood feel more comfortable with a police presence, something which for years has been a concern for both police and the area’s residents.
“There are good people that have lived on this side of town for decades,” one area resident posted on Facebook last week. “I hate that some idiots are ruining my neighborhood.”
Others chimed in to the conversation, expressing concerns that irresponsible, random gunshots could lead to a death; they said they hoped no one was hurt, in particular innocent children.
Since January, police have received dozens of reports of disturbances, assaults and suspicious circumstances in the immediate area, for the purposes of this article focusing on the area bounded by Blackjack Street on the south, Rosewood on the north, Trinity on the west and Torres on the east. Several of those calls have been generated from near the intersection of Chihuahua and Third, the alleged site of the April 13 gunshots.
Lockhart Police Chief Mike Lummus said this week he hopes Thursday’s public meeting will open a dialogue between officers and residents of the neighborhood, in hopes that the people of the area will agree that the police have the same priority as the residents – to make the neighborhood safe for those who live there. He said he understands some people in the area have an inherent distrust of police officers, but believes that most of the residents have the common goal of living and raising their families in their chosen neighborhood in peace.
It is the goal of the police department, he suggested, to provide them with that peace, but he said that can’t be done without the help and cooperation of the community.
Latino Hall is located off LuAnn Lane, just west of Chihuahua Street. All interested residents of the community are invited and encouraged to attend the public meeting on Thursday evening.