Providence gang violence takes toll in young lives lost

By Amanda Milkovits, Rhode Island news
1:00 AM EST on Tuesday, December 29, 2009
PROVIDENCE –– Two months before he was murdered, David Delacruz was running from the police with a loaded .38 handgun at his waist.

At just 17, Delacruz was known by the police for a violent reputation and running with the C-Block street gang.

As Delacruz cut through streets in the South Side and tossed the gun into some bushes that October afternoon, he was already out on bail for robbing a teenage girl at gunpoint last December.

Delacruz tried to punch the officer who caught him this last time, according to a police report describing the arrest, but the officer struck back and put him in handcuffs. A District Court judge sent Delacruz to jail for 60 days for violating his probation on the robbery charge, which had been waived from Family Court, as was the new charge of carrying a firearm without a license.

Delacruz turned 18 in prison two weeks ago and got out of jail on bail again on Dec. 23.

He survived being on the outside for just a day. On Christmas Eve, Delacruz headed to a party around Congress Avenue, an area the police say is known for the C-Block gang.

And that’s where he died late that night, shot to death by another young man wearing a mask.

Of the 23 people murdered in Providence this year, Delacruz is the fourth gang associate to die at the hands of another. All have been young men, none older than 22.

The first murder this year was young Angelo Camarena, just 17 and an associate of the Members of Pine Street. Several days after his murder, a 17-year-old boy associated with C-Block was shot and wounded in what police said at the time was payback for Camarena’s death.

The C-Block gang has feuded with the Members of Pine Street, but the reasons are unclear. Capt. James Desmarais said investigators are looking at all possible leads in Delacruz’s murder.

The mood in the South Side and Elmwood, where members and associates of the two street gangs easily cross each other’s paths, has been tense, said Teny O. Gross, the executive director of the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence.

“Young people really think they can’t back off,” Gross said. “The potential on the South Side is serious.”

Delacruz, of 362 Public St., left behind siblings and a baby girl, according to the police and Gross. One of the street workers involved with trying to keep peace in Providence’s neighborhoods had been his basketball coach, Gross said.

He can see another side of the teen, and the potential that’s been lost. At 17 or 18, someone’s life can’t just be written off, if there’s a way to reach them, Gross said. “We don’t assume people are heartless. Does that make us naïve? I don’t think so.”

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1 Comment for “Providence gang violence takes toll in young lives lost”

  1. As the CEO of a non-profit that addresses gang violence and at-risk behavior, I am seeing how widespread this issue is not only in America, but around the world. From Los Angeles and Chicago to smaller towns in Colorado and Iowa, to international cities in France and in India. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do urge people to look into our program. We’re working with schools and youth prisons around the country and using a real life story and a curriculum we developed to inspire kids to want more for herself. In fact, tomorrow, we’re speaking to 300 inmates at Cook County Jail in Chicago. If what we’re doing can help you in your community, please contact us for more information.

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