Combating violence on Merced streets

MERCED, Calif.

It happened on East 11th Street near G Street. That's just over a mile away from where a man was stabbed to death the night before.

Merced Police say the 13-year-old boy was walking home from a corner store when someone in a blue car started shooting at him. Leelee Sims says she knows the victim and doesn't understand why anyone would hurt him. "He's full of life, he's energetic, I never heard anything bad about him until last night, and I heard about him getting shot. It was sad," said Sims.

This isn't the first time Sims has seen violence in her neighborhood. She says her 16-year-old brother was injured in a shooting in May that killed his friend, who was a wrestler at Golden Valley High School. Then in June a man was shot and killed while driving in this same area. "It's too many shootings, too many killings, too many young children getting hurt, it's just ridiculous."

Merced's most recent homicide happened on K Street. Police found 24-year-old Mario Zavala lying on the ground after someone stabbed him Monday night.

Detectives are now looking at surveillance video of the area to try to find the killer. Zavala's death marked the city's 3rd homicide this year, compared to two at the same time last year. But police say they've actually seen a decrease in violent crime over the past 10 years.

Lieutenant Andre Matthews says that includes not only working with other law enforcement agencies, but also school administrators and community leaders to develop strategies to keep kids out of trouble. He says those programs are proving successful. However, the hot summer months still tend to bring a spike in crime. "More people are hanging out, more people are drinking, and they're out later. And any time you have that combination of things we usually see an increase in crime."

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.