Deaths of innocents lead to L.A. gang crackdown
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A 14-year-old girl was killed by Hispanic gang members who police say were targeting blacks.
A 9-year-old girl died after being hit by a stray bullet as gang members exchanged shots near her home. A cop was wounded in a gunbattle with a suspected gangster.
The soaring violence is prompting police and politicians to promise one of the toughest crackdowns against gangs in city history.
"This is the monster, this is what drives people's fears," said Deputy Chief Charles Beck, who oversees a South Los Angeles district where gang-related crime jumped 24 percent during the year ending in November.
However, the effort has met skepticism in the city that has an estimated 700 gangs with 40,000 members -- about four for every police officer -- and that gave birth to some of the nation's most notorious gangs, including the Crips, Bloods and Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.