After canceling Monday’s City Council meeting due to a lack of a quorum, Mayor Victor Gordo, Deputy Chief Cheryl Moody and several City Councilmembers including John Kennedy, Felicia Williams, Andy Wilson and Jessica Rivas held a press conference to discuss gun violence in the city, including an incident that left a 13-year old boy dead.
“We must do things differently here in Pasadena,” Gordo said on the steps of City Hall as a response to the stray bullet shooting death Saturday evening of Iran Moreno-Balvaneda, a 13-year-old student who attended Blair Middle School, as he sat in his bedroom in his family’s North Raymond Avenue home.
“We cannot continue to take the same approach to public safety in this city or region, and expect different results,” said Gordo, who asked that the police department step up its enforcement and monitoring of gang activity in the City.
The increase in violence began in late October when six shootings left four people hurt and one man dead. Jamal Dion Patterson died after he was fatally shot in the 1000 block of Summit Avenue.
Earlier this month, someone opened fire on the Boys & Girls Club on Fair Oaks Avenue while kids were inside playing. No one was injured.
On Monday, Councilmember John Kennedy called for a new “exile” program for those who use a gun in a crime and implored anyone involved in the Saturday night shooting incident to turn themselves in.
Mayor Gordo recalled that a few years ago, the City called upon more resources for the police department.
“We said, ‘We need more officers, we need more resources,” he recalled. “We must not expect that we can disengage with gang members or anyone who is shooting weapons in this city, and allow them to continue to do that.”
Gordo said that he was now renewing his request that the department “better and more thoroughly engage any individuals who are engaged in any criminal activity in the city of Pasadena, and in the region. This is not a problem isolated here in Pasadena,” he said. “This has to start right here, right now. We cannot wait for another child, to be hurt, to be harmed, as occurred last Saturday evening.”
Kennedy, a former deputy police chief in Richmond, Virginia, recalled that city once had a program called “Project Exile,” which legally removed persons who used a gun in the commission of a crime, from the city.
“They didn’t deserve to be a part of the city,” he said. “Some thought that was a draconian way of policing. I’m not sure we are there in Pasadena, but this has certainly raised the possibility for me to advocate for such (a policy), in spite of the obvious concerns that civil libertarians would have.”
Raising his voice and speaking to the persons involved in the shooting, Kennedy said, “The consequence of your thoughtless action is grief and suffering beyond words. Turn yourself in! To anyone who was with him, turn yourself in! To anyone who knows who did this, turn him in!”
Kennedy continued, “It doesn’t matter if this man, presumably a man, is Black, Brown, or White. It does not matter if he is a gang member or a lone wolf. It does not matter if he is young or old. Turn him in!”
Following the press conference, an emotional vigil was held at the Villa Parke Community Center. More than 200 residents and neighbors sang and prayed, and held up candles and cell phone lights to honor the family. Once again, the mayor and members of the City Council were on hand, along with local community leaders, to remember Moreno.
The council canceled its weekly Monday meeting to attend the vigil.
Pastor Mayra Macedo-Nolan of the Clergy Community Coalition, said, “There is a lot of violence out there, and it’s all happening at the same time, it seems, but tonight, we want to honor Iran Moreno, we want to honor the family, we want to be together as a community to express or grief to one another, and to lament the horrible loss of life that should not have happened, and that’s why we are here.”