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UPDATE: Thirteen-Year-Old Boy Shot, Killed In Drive-By Near Lower Ocean Street on Wednesday

Police and ambulances were called to San Lorenzo Boulevard and Bixby Street around 8 p.m. They found a boy shot twice in the back. He was coming home from football practice, his family said.

A 13-year-old suspected gang member was gunned down in Santa Cruz's Lower Ocean neighborhood Wednesday evening, Santa Cruz police reported.

Neighbors identified him as Joey Mendoza, who was walking home from football practice according to KSBW.

The fatal shooting happened at the corner of San Lorenzo Boulevard and Bixby Street near the . It's second homicide of the year in the city.

Details about what led up to the killing still were emerging Wednesday night. 

The teen was shot twice in the back. Police said the gunfire came from either a sedan or a van, based on statements by witnesses. 

A Good Samaritan saw the shooting, pulled over and gave the boy CPR, said Zach Friend, Santa Cruz police spokesman. 

A Santa Cruz police officer and Watsonville police officer, riding together in a Watsonville police car as part of the county's Gang Task force, were on the Riverside Avenue bridge when the call came through, Friend said. The officers were on scene within one minute.

The Santa Cruz officer also attempted CPR on the teen, Friend said.

The boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sidewalks were blocked off and streets were shut down shortly after 8 p.m. as officers swarmed the area to investigate. Streets are expected to reopen early Thursday morning.

The teen had mutiple contacts with gang units in both Santa Cruz city and county, according to police.

Friends of the victim tearfully gathered on the levy and said the victim attended Gault Elementary School and then Branciforte Middle School. 

Victoria Chavez-Cruz, 13, was friends with the teen. She said he was funny and liked football.

"He was a really nice, sweet guy," Victoria said.

One neighbor was surprised the shooting wasn't louder.

"We didn't hear nothing, and we usually hear everything from our house," said Chris Twilligear, 22, who lives in Beach Flats.

Both homicides this year occurred in the Lower Ocean neighborhood, which leads thousands of tourists daily to the Beach Boardwalk.

"It's not surprising. These streets are known for this," said Ernesto "Cookie" Hernandez, 18, who was walking toward the beach. He lives on Campbell Street, by Broadway, near where Shannon Collins was stabbed to death on a weekday morning in May.

"I always know to look out and be careful," added Hernandez, saying he doesn't feel safe in the neighborhood he has lived in most of his life.

John Colby August 09, 2012 at 06:58 AM
The Santa Cruz City Council and City Economic Development/Redevelopment officials have sustained pockets of inequality in Santa Cruz by continuing to spend HUD block grant funds for housing almost primarily in low income neighborhoods, rather than spreading this housing around to more affluent neighborhoods. HUD warned former Mayor Cynthia Mathews about this abuse. This perpetuates segregation in our community — it violates the Fair Housing Act which was enacted to eliminate segregation.
Fran Wincek August 09, 2012 at 02:14 PM
shooters like that are COWARDS and should be known that that is what they are...not macho or even evil...just stinking COWARDS
David H. Perez August 09, 2012 at 02:27 PM
My question once again is, what is a child this young doing in a gang, and WHERE WERE THE PARENTS???
Daniel Wootan August 09, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Agreed. Also, it's too bad the little money available to improve Ocean Street will be spent on the area near Grant and Highway 17 first. Council members hope funds raised an improved upper Ocean will (perhaps literally) trickle down by the river.
Tinina August 09, 2012 at 03:46 PM
That whole area should be prime real estate. That close to the ocean? There should be nicer hotels and nice SAFE walkways to the beach. It is a horrible first impression for people visiting the city. A thirteen year old boy should be playing sports and beginning to think about going to school dances. Not being involved in gangs. No child should have to worry about being shot in the back. So sorry for the family. A real tragedy! I hope city council will do more to revitalize the city. The San Lorenzo River is another area that is beautiful but overrun by drug activity. It is sad to see.
j8 August 09, 2012 at 05:43 PM
ILLEGALS ARE RUINING OUR TOWN! SANCTUARY CITIES SHOULD BE AGAINST THE LAW! THANK YOU CITY COUNCIL FOR FAILING YOUR CITIZENS..... THE ONE'S HERE LEGALLY!!!!!!!!!!
Xanthippe August 09, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Don't mention that on the Sentinel comments, or you'll be banned (as I was).
Mary Streets August 09, 2012 at 05:58 PM
None of the current city council candidates lives or works in this neighborhood. Streets go unpaved. Bike lanes are missing. Sidewalks are tiny. New proposed developments (like the new project on Ocean) are ugly and overbuilt, not inclusionary, and provide no neighborhood amenities. New city ordinances threaten long term renters with "inspections" which lead to rent increases and evictions. It's hard for residents to feel part of the broader santa cruz community. "Gang" becomes community for some.
Michelle Bankston August 09, 2012 at 06:51 PM
:( That was my thought too immediately when I heard his age. However little is said about his family maybe he had a single mom, and unfortunetly sometimes young teens get involved with these things because they feel accepted in gangs, or both parents work. It's very sad and frustrating that their is so much unneccesary violence- he was a baby. Im sad for his family and a young lost life. These things affect everyone.
Michelle Bankston August 09, 2012 at 06:59 PM
When making comments- it is not cool to talk s*** about the "parents"....people are ignorant and opinionated sometimes to the point of stupidity. My immediate thought when I heard the news was where were his parents. Not that simple is it- people have to work, to pay rent, bills provide for their families etc and getting a "babysitter" or someone for a 13 yr old- pfft come on now- not to mention if he was already walking dangerous grounds and involved in the gangs drugs etc he would probbaly do whatever the hell he wants anyway- and if a parent puts the smack down on their 13 yr old kid they have C.P.S on their a**. Hmmm maybe that would have been better than this huh- now he's gone and its horrible. This kind of crime isn't going to change unless families start having interventions and doing things different, period, I don't know the answer but it touches me for personal reasons and instead of people talkin crap and pointing fingers maybe doing something different for once huh!
Michelle Bankston August 09, 2012 at 06:59 PM
When making comments- it is not cool to talk s*** about the "parents"....people are ignorant and opinionated sometimes to the point of stupidity. My immediate thought when I heard the news was where were his parents. Not that simple is it- people have to work, to pay rent, bills provide for their families etc and getting a "babysitter" or someone for a 13 yr old- pfft come on now- not to mention if he was already walking dangerous grounds and involved in the gangs drugs etc he would probbaly do whatever the hell he wants anyway- and if a parent puts the smack down on their 13 yr old kid they have C.P.S on their a**. Hmmm maybe that would have been better than this huh- now he's gone and its horrible. This kind of crime isn't going to change unless families start having interventions and doing things different, period, I don't know the answer but it touches me for personal reasons and instead of people talkin crap and pointing fingers maybe doing something different for once huh!
jeffry helms August 09, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Maybe if it was not acceptable to wash narcotic money in real estate, and hire foreign nationalist drug crime members in our state,local and federal agencies,maybe this could have been avoided.Gang activity is acceptable on alot of levels, in some ways we condone and lead up to this behavior.
Scott Hallgren August 09, 2012 at 08:57 PM
What a shocker that the one person who goes on a rant about "illegals" has an anonymous name. If you check your facts "j8", undocumented immigrants are not the ones responsible for crime waves. Of course there are exceptions but by and large undocumented immigrants are the ones responsible for the food you eat, contribute a tremendous amount of money to social security (that they can never claim), and are fearful of committing crime because it would mean deportation which also equals no employment and not being able to support the family. Normally I wouldn't waste my time arguing this but in this case I feel it's important because misidentifying the cause of these issues prevents solving them. When you have a system in which both parents have to work ungodly hours just to barely scrape by, it leaves kids alone to fend for themselvesn leaving them vulnerable to negative influence. And when you have a system that severely restricts children of low-income families from any kind of real future, you end up with angry, frustrated kids with no real way out. The answer is to push for stronger interventions early on to catch kids before they take the gang path. There needs to be more priority placed on mentoring programs, on wage equality, and bilingual education just to name a few. If we can offer kids a fair education and a real chance to break out of the poverty cycle, then maybe gangs wouldn't be as attractive.
Brad Kava (Editor) August 09, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Gangs are incredibly powerful for people of all ages, particularly the young. I once spent an evening with Snoop Dogg and his posse, including a member of the Oregon Ducks basketball team. When another guy questioned what the basketball player was doing with these gang guys, risking his status on the team, Snoop gave a long list of the pro and college athletes who were still members of the Long Beach Crips. Once a member, always a member, he said. This was the night he got off on the murder accomplice charge in LA. and he celebrated by pulling out a garbage sized bag of weed in the KMEL studios. Sports fans would be shocked at the athletes who were still in the gang according to him, including, at that time, "the only N---- in hockey." Apparently here is a kid who did play sports..but was involved in gangs, according to sources. Once they are in, even at that young age, it's almost impossible to get out. A young gang member spoke to the Citizen's Police Academy class I took, and explained that he regretted getting in, but if he tried to get out, he'd have two sets of enemies. The other gangs he riled and his own gang which would consider him a traitor. He would pay with is life if he left, he said.
Watzon McWats August 09, 2012 at 10:32 PM
@Xanthippe Not to get off topic, but my experience has been that the Sentinel prunes comments in a way that increases drama and hateful speech. Drama sells papers, level headed comments apparently do not.
David H. Perez August 10, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Scott, the reality is that parenting is the most important job in the world, but requires fewer qualifications than working entry-level at a fast food restaurant. People who do not have the resources to provide their kids with a decent future have no business reproducing. Otherwise, we have 13-year-olds joining gangs and getting murdered.
randy August 10, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Kids are drawn to gangs by the excitement. In WATSONVILLE thanks to the Alejo's and Laskin, our armed forces were not allowed to be at the schools BUT the gang Brown Berets were. They glamorize everything and make it look good. It is exciting, etc. Kids are sometime Latchkey kids and have no parental control when they get out of school or in summer because a parent or both parents have to work. Gangs are all over and recruit constantly. So when it looks better than it is at home, then the gang is what happens. Little do they realize the REAL LIFE of gang until it is too late. Who is to fault? Parents .. not always, police... not really as their hands are tied.. government... some what. SOCIETY.. YES. Society includes parents,, neighbors, friends, relatives, government, police, schools. This is JUST MY OPINION... What is the answer ... I DO NOT KNOW.. wish I did
Kim McAdams August 10, 2012 at 05:54 AM
WHO is at fault? The coward murderer who is still on the loose. Lets pray the cops find this person and justice is served. Stop with the judgements people, a family lost their child.
david Puu August 10, 2012 at 10:30 PM
If there are no "judgements" then more could be lost. There is a cause and affect for most everything. This may have been this child's choice. The death will fall on the parents heads. That is their family. They are paying right now. Your town will be paying for quite some time. Everyone loses when focus is not applied. Reading the comments there appears to be comprehension of the various facets that led to this tragedy. Hope the killer is caught. Hope the gang is vaporized. But hope only goes as far as the first choice, which is to resist this being a regular occurrence. Hope it happens.
KAYLE CASTELLANOS August 11, 2012 at 12:21 AM
kayle castellanos joey mendoza was a nice friend i can't believe he's gone until we die i'll miss him with all my heart just like i miss my dad i'll always have them in mind i don't know why this happened he didn't do anything wrong for him to die like this his parents loved him with all their heart he was only thireen years old i wish this never happend it happened so quick cause i saw him a day before he died when ever i saw him i all ways saw a smile on his face at least he's in heavin resting in peace.
HizDesign October 18, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Sometimes david, the parent(s) are gangsters or associates of gangsters themselves. Some of the parents are just disgusted with their kid's behavior, i.e., poor grades and/or attendance, or just plain not being obedient to the parents. some parents are busy drinking or getting high, some busy working trying to etch out a living, others are, well, who knows where. Unfortunately kids don't just up and join gangs overnight. and then there are the parents who actually do what they can to keep their kid from getting involved in gangs, but (possibly) what they have to offer doesn't look as good as what a gangster lifestyle offers. Please don't interpret what I've said here as me thinking I know it all. I don't. We've just known some kids.
irma October 27, 2012 at 03:39 AM
I HATE HOW ALOT OF PEOPLE ARE BEING JUDGMENTAL WHEN THEY DIDN'T KNOW MY BOY ANTHONY. HE WAS THE SWEETEST SOON ANY MOTHER COULD EVER ASK FOR, I WAS PROUD OF WHO HE WAS. YEAH, HE WAD SURROUNDED BY GANG MEMBERS BUT HE WANT ONE OF THEM, HE WAS TRYING TO AVOID BEING ONE. AND IF I WAS SUCH A BAD MOTHER WHY WAS HE PLAYING FOOTBALL, WHY WAS HE GETTING STRAIGHT A'S IN SCHOOL??? YOUNG AND OLD LOVED HIM BECAUSE HE WAS WELL KNOWN FOR HIS GREAT SMILE, HOW RESPECTFUL HE WAS AND FOR HIS GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR, AND EVEN IF HE WOULD'VE BEEN A GANG MEMBER WHICH HE WASN'T, HE DIDN'T DESERVE TO DIE, HE WAS A 13 YEAR OLD, PRACTICALLY A BABY.....AND YES I'M A SINGLE MOTHER WHO WORKED TWO AND SOMETIMES THREE JOBS TO SUPPORT MY FIVE KIDS IM NOT A BABY POPPER, LIKE SOME IGNORANT PERSON COMMENTED HERE. SO PLEASE STOP JUDGING ME AND MY SON WHO IS NO LONGER HERE TO DEFEND HIMSELF BUT I AM, AND I WILL SPEAK UP IN HIS MEMORY!!!!!!! DO IF YOU GOT NOTHING GOOD TO SAY ABOUT HIM PLEASE KEEP YOUR RUDE COMMENTS TO YOUR SELF, IM PRETTY SURE IF YOU'RE BEING RUDE AND JUDGEMENTAL ITS BECAUSE YOU'RE PROBABLY NOT SO HAPPY WITH YOUR OWN PATHETIC LIVES, AND I WANNA THANK KIM, KAYLE AND EVERYONE ELSE WHO POSTED NICE COMMENTS HERE, GOD BLESS YOU SPECIALLY KAYLE :-)

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