Here’s another story from the August 10, 2007 edition of my local paper, The Daily Herald, a Provo, Utah-based newspaper. This story actually happened in Ogden, Utah.
Two young women were shot and killed and 2 others were injured at a post-wedding party. The suspect is a 19 year old gang member.
He says disrespectful words often trigger gang violence. “That’s how innocent people get hurt all the time,” Riqo Mariano Perea told the newspaper. “It’s a matter of respect when you’re in a gang. You got to keep the respect.” Apparently, he is justified in doing whatever it takes to keep that respect – no personal responsibility, he had to do it, that’s the way it works.
Perea said guns were fired because someone from a rival gang shouted an insulting, disrespectful expletive. The insult ended with, “Big time Norte.” “Saying ‘big time’ is like saying you’re the hardest,” Perea told the newspaper. “None of that stuff that night would have happened if [that] dude hadn’t said nothing.”
Off the top of my head, I thought, “What’s the problem, why is that an insult? Don’t these gang members want to be seen as ‘hard’, tough, or whatever?” If not, they sure are doing everything wrong!
Perea also said he was born into his gang because his mother was once a member, although his father is a member of the rival gang involved that night. Again, no responsibility for his decisions – it’s not his fault.
In November, Perea was charged with attempted homicide, when he was accused of shooting into a car with 5 people, wounding one of them.
I have always wondered why a criminal gets a lesser charge for attempted murder, attempted rape, or attempted anything. He gets off easier because he got lucky and wasn’t able to succeed at his plan? Something sounds unjust about that to me. He attempted, and would have succeeded, except for circumstances beyond his control. The victim was able to fight back, run, duck, or whatever. Maybe the shooter isn’t a good enough marksman or someone else interrupts them in the act.
I don’t think a criminal should get credit unless they stopped themselves short of finishing their crime. The charges should be exactly the same as if they had succeeded.
This story highlights why I believe that… He got off easy before. It’s only August, November was only 9 months ago. I don’t know the details of that story – if he’s been tried, served his time, or what. But for some reason, 9 months later, he’s out again and this time he apparently succeeded in killing someone. Give him more practice and, like most people, his aim has improved.
These two women could still be alive if he had been in jail from the first attempt. But he was rewarded for his failure in that case. Is that the message society wants to send? If you’re a failure, don’t worry, you’ll get another chance, just hang in there. That’s a good message for everyday failures and shortcomings, but not in cases of violent behavior.
This guy, as in most similar cases, seems to accept no personal responsibility. If you’re in a gang and someone says the wrong thing, intentional or not, you get to start shooting.
Some facts about gangs:
- There are more than 24,500 different youth gangs around the country, counting more than 772,500 teens and young adults as members.
- Youth gangs are responsible for much of the serious violence in the United States and pose one of the greatest threats to the safety and security of average Americans.
- Teen gang members are much more likely to commit serious and violent crimes than other teens.
- A survey in Denver found that while only 14% of teens were gang members, they were responsible for committing 89% of the serious violent crimes.
- Violence between gangs is common, and gang members are at least 60 times more likely to be killed than the rest of the population.
You can help slow the spread of gang violence by learning what a gang is, what the signs of gang involvement and gang activity are. If you are concerned that your teenager, your friend, or someone else may be involved with a gang, take this quick assessment to learn more about the warning signs and help you determine if your child may truly be getting into gang activity…