East community angry over crime rise

December 2, 2008 7:58:15 PM PST
People living in an east Houston community say a park that was once a place for the family to gather is now a breeding ground for crime.Now residents are demanding something be done.

Eastwood Park prides itself on its family friendly atmosphere. Claudio Velez says he likes it because there's freedom for the kids. While Eastwood looks pleasant enough, as of late it's become a battleground.

"We have kids beating up on kids, there's a lot of gang initiations going on," said Christian Aguilera with the Oaklawn Fullerton Civic Association. "We have kids breaking into cars and hijacking people and robbing people. I mean you name it."

A lifelong resident of the Oaklawn neighborhood, Aguilera is on a mission to save it.

"It starts at the park and it doesn't just stay at the park, eventually it flows it streams out into the community," he said. "I hear some of the neighbors talk. Everybody's concerned they don't feel safe."

We put our exclusive Crimetracker to use in the Oaklawn neighborhood that includes Eastwood Park. While murder and rape through September of this year showed a sharp decrease, robbery was up by 50%. Aggravated assault was up 24%.

"HPD and us are working together also," said Constable Victor Trevino of Precinct 6 in Harris County. "Not only have we increased the patrols, some of the gang task force, some of the officers who work a special task force are also assigned to it. I think before too long it'll be back to normal."

Precinct 6 deputies recently arrested Pedro Lopez, 25, a suspected gang member, in connection with a string of car burglaries in the area.

While progress is being made, Aguilera who played in this park as a kid, says the city afford not to make it a priority.

"Right now we have them pulling out guns on each other, it's only a matter of time before they start pulling the trigger and having kids die out here," he warned.

Park management police and city leaders plan on meeting to talk about crime and possible solutions. If you have any information about the crimes call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS. You do not have to give your name and could be eligible for a cash reward.

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