Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 24, 2007

Shooting deaths jar East Palo Alto

Family, friends mourn loss of two teenagers killed Sunday

by Alexandria Rocha

Students at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in East Palo Alto handed out white ribbons on Monday to commemorate Stop the Violence Week — one day after their classmate Moises Jimenez, 13, was shot and killed in a carport on Cooley Avenue.

The week-long schedule of events had been planned months in advance but took on a sudden and pointed relevance with Jimenez's death.

Police said Jimenez and a second victim, Tomas Hernandez, 18, were standing in the carport of a small apartment complex on the corner of Cooley and Scofield avenues Sunday when two Hispanic males in hooded sweatshirts walked up around 12:30 p.m.

Witnesses said the four exchanged words before one of the men shot Jimenez, who died on the scene, with a semi-automatic handgun. Hernandez tried to run and was shot, collapsing at the corner of the parking lot. He died later at Stanford Medical Center.

The two suspects fled on foot and were still at large as of Tuesday morning, police said. Jimenez and Hernandez became the city's first two homicides of 2007.

At Cesar Chavez Elementary School on Monday, Principal David Herrera made personal visits to each seventh- and eighth-grade classroom to deliver the news. He said counselors were on hand and a number of students sought their services.

The school serves fourth- through eighth-graders.

This is Herrera's fourth year at Cesar Chavez and his 10th in the Ravenswood City School District. He has never had to deal with this type of tragedy.

"Everyone I've spoken to, this is something new for them, too," he said.

Herrera purchased boxes at Home Depot so students could collect donations for Jimenez's funeral. Students placed the boxes, with the letters "R.I.P." in black marker written on them, around the campus.

"He was here for a few years, and he had a lot of friends," Herrera said. "A lot of those friends are upset and profoundly impacted by what has happened."

When asked how his classmates reacted after hearing the news, one student said: "A lot of people cried."

Another student said that Jimenez "always got into fights because of the Norteno" street gang.

As part of the scheduled Stop the Violence Week, Herrera said the students are engaged in an essay contest with the theme of "peace," which will culminate in a peace-making celebration Friday.

Herrera said he held a staff retreat this year, which 85 percent of his staff attended. One of the major topics of discussion was how to build resiliency in the students.

"We know students in our community . . . face economical challenges and the violence in our community," he said. "And we still expect them to score well on their standardized tests.

"How can you come to school and focus on math when the person who lives down the street from you just got killed?"

Herrera said he didn't know whether Sunday's shootings were gang-related. But, he added: "Gangs are always at the forefront, especially for middle-schoolers. Gangs can seem like an attractive option because (they're) a place to belong."

Across town at the carport Monday, Maria Galvan, 17 — longtime girlfriend of the second victim, Tomas Hernandez — put candles, flowers and a heart-shaped balloon in the spot where Hernandez collapsed. She and a friend put a second memorial in the spot where Jimenez died.

"When they told me he was in the hospital, I felt sick and came home," Galvan, who was at the mall when she heard the news, said.

Her friend, Jennifer Menendez, said Hernandez was gentle and a little shy.

Galvan said Hernandez moved from Mexico to the United States when he was 15. He did not attend school but worked in landscaping and construction. He was trying to become financially stable so he could send money home, she said.

Hernandez's relatives who live in the Bay Area are hoping to have his body shipped to Mexico, where his mother lives.

Galvan, an East Palo Alto resident, said her neighborhood is unsafe.

"We knew it was dangerous since we moved here," she said. "But there was nothing we could do about it."

Staff Writer Alexandria Rocha can be e-mailed at arocha@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by u know who, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 11, 2008 at 5:17 pm

i go to cesar chavez school i really like it i lived in east palo alto my whole life i am used to all the shooting here i am only 13 years old.


Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 11, 2008 at 7:44 pm

This story is one year old (although it is still sad).


Posted by NANCY, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 14, 2008 at 9:42 pm

YOU GUYS SHOULDNT BE FIGHTEING! WE ARE ALL FAMILY! AND NORTE AND SUR, DOESNT TAKE YOU ANYWERE ONLY TO MORE DEATHZ, I WAS IN GANGS BEFORE, AND FOR WHAT! JUST TO KNOW THAT ONE OF YOUR FRIENDS ARE DYING NOOO, I STOPPED THE GANGS, AND I GOT ALL MY FRIENDS OUT OF THE GANGS, CAUSE I REALLY CARE ABOUT THEM AND I DONT WANT TO SEE ANYONE OF MY FRIENDS GET HURT OR DIE... DO YOU KNOW WHAT IM TRYING TO SAY...MY BOTHER AND SISTERS GO TO CESAR CHAVEZ ACADEMY, AND THEY REALLY WANT TO GO AHEAD OF THE FUTURE GO TO COLLEDGE, NOT TO SEE THEIR DEATH NEAR... I HOPE YOU GOT THE MESSAGE, STOP THE VIOLENCE! AND PEACE.


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