Yet another teenage bike rider killed in shooting. Does it matter?

Last April, a 17-year old cyclist was hit and killed by a speeding car on a busy Valley boulevard. The driver roared away without even slowing down, leaving Alex Romero to die in the street.

Last Saturday, another 17-year old was killed while riding his bike, this time in Lincoln Heights near Downtown L.A.

Instead of a careless, heartless and overly aggressive driver, this young man, still not publicly identified, encountered a group of gang members who opened fire as he attempted to ride away; he died a short time later at USC Medical Center.

Should we care about one, and not the other?

Thousands of cyclists and other Angelenos have been deeply affected by the death of Romero, as well as Danny Marin, another rider killed in a similar collision.

And neither begins to compare with the outpouring of grief demonstrated for Connor Lynch, the 16-year old runner from the valley’s exclusive Notre Dame High School killed by a young driver who fled before turning herself in a few blocks away

Yet when we see the words gang shooting, we turn our heads and look the other way.

Just one of those things. One of those people. Yet another victim of a community that long ago learned to live and die with violence.

Yet this young man had as much of a future as Romero, Marin and Lynch.

Maybe he had more challenges to overcome, maybe less. We don’t even know who he was yet, let alone why he was killed.

Maybe he was in the wrong gang. Maybe he was just wearing the wrong colors, or dressed the wrong way. Maybe he was someone they knew.

Maybe he was just an innocent victim, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We may never know. The press usually doesn’t have much interest in cases like this; just another gang shooting, another young victim of the streets. No follow-up likely, unless something unusual turns up or, for some reason, the public happens to care.

Yet this young man’s future was still unwritten, and like the others — and every young person— full of near infinite possibilities that will never be fulfilled.

And family and friends who are undoubtedly devastated by the news, and wondering how they will ever go on without him.

A death is a death, whether it comes from a bullet or the bumper of a car.

Does it really matter how or why?

He was on a bike.

He was one of us.

……..

According to KTLA-5, the shooting occurred in front of a closed business on the 300 block of West Avenue 33 in Lincoln Heights around 8:30 pm Saturday.

Detectives believe the victim encountered a group of gang members, who opened fire as he tried to ride away; responding officers found him laying in the street suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detectives J. Rios or Cary Ricard at (323) 342-8959. During non-business hours or weekends, calls may be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7.

This is the 6th fatal shooting of a bicyclist in Southern California this year, and the 5th in Los Angeles County. His was the 43rd confirmed cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 17th in L.A. County.

And most likely, far from the last.

11 comments

  1. Public safety should be a part of bicycle advocacy. If people don’t feel safe unless they’re enclosed within the lockbox of an SUV, our other efforts to encourage cycling are in vain.

  2. user1 says:

    Isn’t assuming he was in a gang making a rather large and unsubstantiated assumption? Sounds to me like the guy just hit a bad streak of no luck. Being young and wrong place at the wrong time.

    RIP my friend.

    • bikinginla says:

      I don’t assume he was in a gang, and have no idea if the police do. The only information I have is that detectives believe that he was killed by gang members; that does not necessarily mean he was a gang member.

      • user1 says:

        I just got the impression in reading your post that it was far more likely he was in a gang than not. Read it again and see if you don’t.

        • bikinginla says:

          I tried to be very careful not to give that impression. But I’ve changed the wording a little to clarify that a little.

          Thanks for letting me know how it came across.

          • user1 says:

            “Maybe he was in the wrong gang.”

            Does that seed really need to be planted? I mean it’s bad enough that a young kid haves to be growing up in a gang-infested neighborhood, but does everyone always have to think that they belong in a gang too?

            It’s your blog, you can do what you want to. I’m just saying.

            • bikinginla says:

              Sorry, I have to disagree with you. The police have already planted that seed; they are the ones who termed it a gang shooting. I’ve gone out of my way to point out that there may be a number of alternative explanations for why the victim was shot.

              To quote from the first line of the LAPD press release:
              “Gang violence appears to be the motive in the shooting death of a 17-year-old male Hispanic….”

              You are correct that it is wrong to assume that anyone who lives in such a neighborhood is a gang member. But to ignore the possibility, especially in light of how the police have positioned the shooting, would be equally wrong.

            • user1 says:

              Like I said, it’s your blog, you can do whatever you want. I myself know better than to believe first, or second impression or much of anything coming from the local PD. The incident at Culver City with 11 riders hurt is just the latest example.

  3. Creg Thrmas says:

    A death is a death, whether it comes from a bullet or the bumper of a car, whether the victim is on a bike, in a car, or on foot. Where is the community grief for Michael David?

    http://www.theeastsiderla.com/2011/07/echo-park-murder-investigation-leaves-family-and-police-frustrated/

    I really wish when it comes to public safety that tragedies such as these don’t get compartmentalized.

    • bikinginla says:

      Creg, you’re right, of course; as a society, we’ve become numb to violent deaths. We all need to do what we can to call attention to the problem, and remember and honor the victims. This blog is about bicycling, so I try to limit my coverage to those who are killed on bikes, as well as a concern for traffic fatalities in general. That doesn’t mean my readers and I don’t share concern victims of violent crimes, or that our hearts don’t go out to Michael and his loved ones.

  4. […] Does It Matter How a Cyclist Is Killed? (Biking In L.A.) […]

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