Whittier man gives gang members a new way of life

By Sandra T. Molina, Whittier Daily News
Posted: 01/18/2010 09:07:50 PM PST

Whittier resident Ed Roche was born in jail to a bank-robbing mom.

He didn’t meet her until age 14.

Roche’s father battered him nightly with “bone-crushing abandon.”

Still, he survived and learned a trade at age 11.

An uncle taught the young man the basics of air conditioning repair.

Ten years ago, after putting up signs in Inglewood that read, “Gang members wanted,” Roche, 41, taught gang members the same trade and provided gainful employment.

On Tuesday night, he once again started another series of classes for those who want out of the gang life.

About eight men showed up at the Second Mt. Nebo Baptist Church and listened to Roche tell his story.

They heard how he lived just down the street from the church before moving into a million-dollar home in Whittier about three years ago.

And they heard Roche tell them about his life, which he said was not far from what they are living.

In fact, his life is now being filmed for a documentary, and he is in the process of penning his autobiography.

Roche had some trouble as a teen, but not serious enough to keep him from joining the Marines.

He sought “sanctuary” in the Marine Corps at age 18.

They taught him to fight, kill and improvise in any situation.

“They didn’t teach me to turn it off,” Roche said.

A decade ago, he moved to Inglewood after being released from a Mexican jail.

To this day, he’s not sure why he was imprisoned.

It doesn’t matter.

His background helped to bridge the gap between him and the gang members.

“They thought, `Who is this white guy?”‘

One of those men was Robert Davis, 37, of Inglewood.

“He taught me exactly what to do to make a good living,” Davis said.

Davis, who now earns $100,000 annually, called Roche a motivator.

“He’s a little loud and obnoxious, but you’ll learn,” he said.

The two men are good friends, who even take vacations together.

“I trust this man with my kids,” said Roche, who has six children with wife, Lilly, 27.

The men are given uniforms, boots, and $2,500 worth of tools for their jobs with Roche’s company, Natric Industries, whose client list includes national and local business chains from El Pollo Loco to Costco.

“If you stick with me,” Roche said to the men in attendance, “you will learn a viable trade.”

Posted by on Jan 18 2010. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

1 Comment for “Whittier man gives gang members a new way of life”

  1. Crenshaw870

    I saw one of the hand made “Gang Members Wanted” ads on Crenshaw and Florence by the Mobil gas station

    Out of curiosity I was going to call but decided against it.

    Now I see what it was for.

    Great cause

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