Posted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 6:37 am Post subject: 26ers vs. Latin king
Looking out at dozens of young men wearing the black and gold colors of the Latin Kings, Rev. Matthew Foley said a funeral mass for Luis Magana, 17, who was gunned down in Little Village by a rival gang.
Four hours before mourners gathered on May 22, another 17-year-old died in a barrage of gunfire on the doorstep of his mother's red-brick home. Latin Kings had apparently mistaken him for a member of the rival Two Sixers.
Two hours after the service began, a 26-year-old Latin King double-parked his truck along a street of two-flats and was asking a friend for tips on fixing up the home he'd just bought. A maroon sedan thought to be carrying Two Sixers quietly rolled up, killed the man in a crackle of gunfire, then disappeared into the neighborhood streets.
In 12 days, the three deaths and four additional shootings erased any optimism that a stretch of calm months in the tough swath of Chicago's Southwest Side might continue. It was clear the 30-year-old feud between Latin Kings and the Two Sixers was as fierce as ever.
"We haven't had murders like this for a while," said Foley, a streetwise priest who buried all three of the slain men. "It's tense."
Although homicides in Chicago through May are down 30 percent from last year, the Little Village murders show that the streets and sidewalks of gang-infested neighborhoods remain volatile. Even when the murder rate is down, clashes between rival gangs can trigger a burst of retaliatory killings.
Callused by years of shootings, many in Little Village have given up hope.
"I've been here for 32 years in this neighborhood and it's gotten bad, the worst I've seen," said Rosa Ramirez, 47. "Laying in bed at night you can hear them, they are killing each other. And for what? For something they don't own, their turf."
Fights for territory
The Marquette Police District, which includes Little Village, is carved up by 11 gangs. Just east of the abutting Two Sixer and Latin King territories, stretching into Pilsen, are several smaller gang turfs: Those of the Bishops, Ambrose, La Raza, and Latin Counts.
"There are so many different gangs in such a small area," said Charise Kazaglis, deputy supervisor of the gang prosecutions unit at the Cook County state's attorney's office. "Counts are shooting Bishops because Bishops shot Counts. The La Razas battle the Ambrose, the Kings fight the Two Sixers. They're so close that shooting becomes the only way you can mark your territory."
Police attribute much of this year's reduction in slayings to improved gang intelligence, which helps officers attack hot spots before violence erupts. But the unpredictable catalysts that set off gang wars make it all but impossible to head off every conflict.
Joe Sparks, a retired Chicago police gang crimes officer who served for 30 years on the force, said senseless violence has always plagued Latin King and Two Sixer territory.
"If they see each other, they are obligated to kill each other," he said. "They hate each other. It's gone on since I can remember. Each shooting, it's payback, with a payback, with a payback."
The city's black street gangs tend to fight primarily over drug turf--using violence to protect business enterprises. Many of the wars among Hispanic gangs stem from machismo-fueled fights and the simple protection of turf.
"It's about territory," said an 18-year-old Latin King. "If you go over there, they are going to mess with you."
Another Latin King--a lanky, soft-spoken 17-year-old--said the streets in Little Village are deadly right now.
"They won't hesitate," he said of both gangs. "As easy as you walking down the street, they could get you. It's easy being shot. It's going to escalate even more."
Lost in the blur of violence is the reason why the two gangs lashed out at each other.
"Nobody has any idea," said Foley. "They're all Mexican, they're all Catholic, and they're all killing each other."
While investigators would like to know what caused the skirmishes, Marquette District Police Cmdr. Dennis Prieto said the focus now is on bringing them to a halt.
He gave this account of what police think has happened so far:
On May 18, a 21-year-old Two Sixer was at Kedvale Avenue and 31st Street with a friend, just across the street from a grocery spray-painted with "2" and "6."
As a car pulled up, the man raised two fingers to exchange the Two Sixers gang sign. Men thought to be Latin Kings then opened fire and hit him in the right thigh, leaving him slumped at the base of a graffiti-marked fence.
The next day, the Two Sixers retaliated. Luis Magana, who police say was an up-and-coming member of the Latin Kings, was walking near his old elementary school when a tan Chevy mini-van pulled up. A passenger shot Magana four times and the van tore away, racing down 24th Street with its passengers flashing gang signs out the windows.
Magana died in Two Sixer territory.
"He would be brazen to go over to the Two Six territory," Prieto said. "From what I understand, he just thought he was invincible."
Late in the evening on May 21, Latin Kings shot two Two Sixers within minutes of each other. A 20-year-old was shot next door to his home, falling to the sidewalk beside a chain-link fence covered in roses. A 24-year-old was shot in an alley where Two Sixers had painted the ultimate sign of disrespect against the Latin Kings--an image of the gang's crown turned upside down.
Both men survived.
An innocent victim
The Latin Kings struck back with deadly force the next day on the southern edge of Two Sixer territory.
It was 4 a.m. when Carmen Hernandez heard the gunshots outside her home. She rushed to the front door and pulled it open. Her 17-year-old son's bullet-riddled body fell into the living room, his house key still in the door lock.
Ricardo "Ricky" Hernandez was not involved with any gang, but police and Hernandez's family say his sister used to hang with the Two Sixers, possibly making Hernandez a target.
That morning, on a street where youngsters bicycle up and down the block, the Two Sixers exacted revenge by killing Hector Cruz, 26, as he sat in a parked truck.
The battle was quiet for several days, then flared up again on May 29, when the Latin Kings shot an 18-year-old Two Sixer outside a single-family home on South Tripp Avenue.
Gang members said the back-and-forth shootings are simply the way things work on the streets of the largely Hispanic pocket of Chicago.
"It's retaliation, that side and that gang to this side and this gang," said a burly 18-year-old Latin King, who would not give his name. "After somebody is shot, their friends go crazy."
The investigation has been frustrated by Latin Kings and Two Sixers who are bound by gang law to keep quiet about crimes.
No arrests have been made in any of the seven shootings, and Prieto said police are trying to wrestle back control of the area by saturating Little Village with gang tactical units.
More than 50 officers flooded the area this week, and there will be at least 100 patrolling Saturday and Sunday.
Police also are concerned because Friday was the one-year anniversary of the slaying of a high-ranking Latin King member, though the Two Sixers were not responsible for the hit.
"There's a definite need to inundate the district, specifically the Little Village area with a police presence," Prieto said, noting that he has also contacted local clergy and community leaders.
Gang ties denied
Although the community's outrage and the police investigations are aimed at the Latin Kings and the Two Sixers, families of the victims say their loved ones either were not involved in gangs or had moved on from that lifestyle.
Magana's uncle, Emilio Pantoja, said his nephew had dropped out of school after the 8th grade, but worked temporary jobs and stayed out of trouble.
"He was a good kid," Pantoja said. "He wasn't in any gang. He loved his family. It's just a tragedy."
The family of Hector Cruz and members of the Latin Kings said Cruz had been involved in gang culture but had put that behind him.
Cruz's sister, Daisy Franco, said her brother had promised himself several years ago he would finally marry his longtime sweetheart, buy a home and start a family.
"He said, `In two years I'm buying my own house,'" Franco said. "He had his priorities in order. He triumphed in everything he did, in everything he wanted."
When a brick house across from his family's home came on the market this year, he bought it and started fixing it up.
He was shot as he and his fiance were on their way to Home Depot.
Police say Ricky Hernandez definitely was not involved with a gang. His death appears to have been either a case of mistaken identity or guilt by association.
His mother said her son's 19-year-old sister used to hang around with local gang members and now is in jail serving time for a home invasion. Prieto said it's possible Hernandez was hit by Latin Kings because of his sister's affiliation with the Two Sixers.
Friends and family members have flooded the Hernandezes' modest home each night since the shooting to pray the rosary or listen to the grieving mother recall the boy she called "precious," "pumpkin" and "love."
"My son was my world," Hernandez said. "He was my everything."
Though she'll never understand the reckless mentality of the gangs that plague the neighborhood she's lived in for 22 years, Hernandez wishes those responsible could speak to her and get a sense of the damage they've done.
"I have to live with this for the rest of my life," she said, her body trembling. "And I don't know how I'm going to do it."
Posted: Sun Jul 18, 2004 7:53 am Post subject: Re: 26ers vs. Latin king
The Kings been at it with the G26 a long time
Ghost where you from?
Posted: Fri Aug 20, 2004 10:15 pm Post subject: Re: 26ers vs. Latin king
yup yup....especially around that area they go at it crazzzzzzzzzzzy...actuaully, theirs a lof of gang incidents in that area..not just between 26 and the kings...