Malaga Residents Confront Crime Worries

Concerns voiced to local board, law enforcement

MALAGA, Calif. - A search for solutions in Malaga Tuesday night.
 
Elsa Gonzales was one of dozens of residents voicing concerns about what they see as a community losing control on crime.
 
"I honestly believe it starts at home," Gonzales says.  "You are raising your child, so stand up and teach your child right from wrong."   
 
Felipe Leal grew up in Malaga but moved away for years.  When he came back, he says the community had taken a turn, and not the good kind.
     
Now, he says, there are no programs to keep kids and teenagers busy.  And that leads to problems.
 
"If they don't have anywhere to go, they'll get in mischief," Leal says.  "I don't care how good the kid is, he's going to get in trouble if he has nowhere to go."
 
"It's not just one resident that feels like that," says Sal Cerrillo, Vice President of the Malaga Board of Directors.  
 
"We had over 100 residents here tonight, and I feel like they all share the same concerns."
 
Cerrillo says the community has seen it's share of incidents.  From drive-by's he blames on gang members in neighboring towns, to an officer-involved shooting in May that sent a local suspect to the hospital.  
 
Days later, a Malaga teenager was shot and killed by a clerk while trying to rob a convenience store in Easton.  A memorial outside a Malaga home now serves as a teenage hangout.  
 
Tuesday night, neighbors asked Fresno County Sheriff's deputies how they can get the teens to hang out somewhere else.
 
The Sheriff's Department promised to remain close partners, and even encouraged the friends who put up the memorial to take it down.  
 
But most of all, the department encouraged the community to do more.  That's exactly what parents like Gonzales and Leal plan to do.
 
"Law enforcement can only do so much," says Leal.  "Schools can only do so much.  Parents have to get involved.  Everybody has to be involved."
 
"It's a start," Gonzales says of the meeting.  "It's a beginning of where we're going to be headed as a community.  Hopefully we can come together and work to get things changed."

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