The last few days I have been asked about 15 times if I knew anything about the killing of the 15-year-old boy behind the Montessori School on Baxter last Saturday. It happened at about 8:30 p.m., and many people were home and awake, so it seems almost everyone heard the shots. My daughter was home that night with her babysitter, and when we walked in Elysian Park park two days ago she became frightened for the first time when she heard the gunshots from the Police Academy target practice.
About the killing, all I know is the boy's name (Michael Joseph Lezay), his age, and that his death may have been gang-related, which does not necessarily mean that he was in the gang. One reader, Mari, whose daughter attends the Montessori school at Baxter and Echo Park Ave. wrote to me about a shrine in the alley:
The shooting was in the alley just behind Baxter Montessori, where my daughter goes to school. [snip] There's a shrine in the alley where the boy was shot. There's always a disconnect when you read that a child was 15--I think of them as almost grown. Yet from his photo, he was just a kid. When I picked my daughter up yesterday, there were about 12 family members at the shrine, lighting candles and crying. I realized that while parents of gang members may be very different from me, they're not very different at all.
Another reader, Janos, took issue with my comment about the NRA (its credo that "guns don't kill people"). Honestly, I thought there were only two NRA members in Echo Park (one of whom I haven't seen in a while but have always been fond of), but it seems there are three and, who knows, maybe more, maybe scores.
Dear Jenny, If all private ownership of guns are made illegal, then only criminals will have them. BTW, homicide is illegal, but criminals seem to commit them. The NRA had nothing to do with that tragic murder, but maybe some of the 150,000 gang members in LA County did. I'm born and raised in LA, have lived in Echo Park for 5 years, and am a proud member of the NRA.
I appreciate Janos' point of view: to ignore the possible street gang role in the killing would be blind. Though perhaps the problem lies in the word "gang": In Chicken Corner's dictionary, the NRA falls squarely into the definition of an organized gang, as a group comprised of individuals committed to violence as well as political and economic influence.
NRA, gang...Maybe "the problem" is that no one has an adequate peg on which to hang their thoughts and feelings in regard to the killing of this young person, but we all need to talk about it nonetheless.