Victims evicted; others say they will stick it out

By Scott Graves

Triplicate staff writer

The bullet-ridden windows have been replaced at a Crescent City apartment complex, but the impact of last weeks shootings on Eighth Street still resonates throughout the neighborhood.

Tenants and nearby residents jump at every loud noise. Some tenants are thinking about moving out, and the victims of the crime are being evicted.

My little girls are scared, said Brandy Mendoza. Were leaving. I dont know where, but I dont want to be around here anymore.

Mendoza, her boyfriend and her children were asleep when their apartment was struck by gunfire.

Four teens have been charged with multiple counts of attempted murder in connection with the back-to-back shootings on May 17 and 19.

The teens are accused of shooting into one occupied apartment in the 300 block of Eighth Street, and then coming back a short time later and shooting at the apartment next door.

Authorities said the shootings were racially motivated and involved a group of Asian teens and two white teens. The two groups had allegedly swapped racial slurs while standing in front of one of the apartments prior to the shooting, authorities said.

Two families with young children living in the two apartments were not injured in the shootings.

Mendozas neighbor, Ramona Light, whose apartment was hit by bullets during the second shooting, was also concerned for her childrens safety.

My kids are suffering because of something they didnt do, Light said.

Were having trouble sleeping. We dont want to be in the house.

Ever since the shootings, Light and her children have been staying with another tenant. They go back to their apartment for things only out of necessity.

Both Mendoza and Light were upset at receiving eviction notices earlier in the week.

The manager told me its not my fault, that its just all the commotion, Light said. But I dont have any place else to go. I didnt do anything wrong. I was just sleeping when it all happened.

The apartment manager, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said she gave both tenants a no-cause eviction notice for their own good.

Theres nothing vindictive about it, the manager said. Im mostly concerned about the childrens welfare. They shouldnt be living there.

She said the eviction notice may help the tenants get help from other local agencies in finding another place to live.

Another tenant, however, has vowed to stick it out.

This is home and Im going to stay here, said a woman who lives next door to one of the shot up apartments. Im not going to let something, or someone, chase me away.

Like most of the tenants and residents in the area, the woman didnt want her name used because she feared retaliation.

You eventually get past something like this, but you never forget it, one woman said. Its very tense around here. I jump at the sound of a car door slamming.

She isnt alone. The Crescent City Police Department received several calls Wednesday from residents who reported hearing gun shots in the area.

Police officers investigated the reports but were unable to determine whether the sounds were gunshots or something else, said Police Chief Bob West.

Meanwhile, officers will continue to keep a close eye on the neighborhood, West said.

We have a heightened awareness in that area since the shooting, he said. Retaliation is always a possibility, but the probability is very low.