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.