Pasadenans marked National Gun Violence Awareness Day Thursday by wearing orange to show their support for stopping gun violence at home and around the country.
Orange has been adopted nationally after friends of a murdered Chicago teenager asked people to wear that color in her memory, and the effort gain widespread attention.
“There were a staggering 80 shootings in our city’s neighborhoods and parks in 2015,” Councilmember Victor Gordo said in an article he wrote for Pasadena in April. “This compares with an unacceptable 38 shootings in 2011 and 43 shootings in 2014. Already this year, as of April 20, 2016, Pasadena experienced 28 shootings.”
One of those shootings resulted in this year’s single homicide, the death of James R. Rucker, a 29-year-old father of two, on February 16. The attack on Rucker occurred in close proximity to a shooting the night before which had left one victim in critical condition.
Late in 2015 after an 11 day period in which six victims were shot, Pasadena Chief of Police Phillip Sanchez told community members at a neighborhood meeting “there are too many guns in our community.”
“If you are a gun owner,” Sanchez said, “lock the damn thing up!”
Pasadena police have taken 93 guns off the street so far this year — 37 taken for safekeeping, 14 found, and 42 taken as evidence — on a pace with last year’s total of 224 guns.
According to the most recently-released Pasadena Police Department Monthly Statistical Report, assaults with a deadly weapon—which includes but is not limited to guns— have risen steeply over the past 12 months and actually doubled in April, 2016 compared to April, 2015. 2016 has seen the largest increase —55% — over 2015, in assaults with a deadly weapon, which include shootings.
Thirty-seven out of the 65 reported assaults with a deadly weapon incidents occurred in Northwest Pasadena, according to Pasadena Police Lieutenant Tracey Ibarra. She said that a violence reduction task force has been in operation in that area there since February.
“Those efforts have been beneficial,” Ibarra said. “We’ve made several arrests and have gotten individuals off the streets, and firearms. The number of shootings has decreased in the last couple of months. Of course there are still shootings that are occurring.”