'Absolutely insane': Tulare residents react to Wednesday night gang shooting

TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Linda Burleson knows she doesn't live in Tulare's safest neighborhood.

But she was still shocked to find out that six people were shot steps away from her front door on Wednesday night.

"It's just really sad," Burleson said. "It's sad and it's scary. It's like you can't go out, you can't do anything, can't celebrate anything for whatever reason. You always gotta watch your back, something's going to happen."

Burleson was sound asleep at the time, so she didn't hear the shots.

But half a mile away, Kathy Stearns heard them loud and clear from her bedroom window.

"There was intent to do something malicious," Stearns said. "You could hear it in the shots, you could hear it in the way it rang out, and that was a little bit terrifying."

Tulare Police say the shooting victims were part of a large group of people gathered for a celebration of life.

One of the victims, 23-year-old Demetrius Perry-Jones, died.

A seven-year-old girl was also struck multiple times and brought to Valley Children's Hospital.

"(It's) insane," Tulare's Darleen Warren said. "Absolutely insane that someone can do that. Horrible."

The shooting happened at an apartment complex across the street from a city skate park.

But it didn't stop Shawn Pollard and his cousin's son from spending some time there on Thursday.

He says the community needs to come together and take a stand against gang members.

Tulare Police believe the shooting was gang-related.

"I'm not scared of these people," Pollard said. "You know they're not going to push me and my children out of this community just because they want to run and be little thugs or whatever they want to be."

Linda Burleson also hopes there's no more bloodshed.

Because, she says, it's just not worth it.

"People gotta stop doing what they're doing," she said. "It's not justifying anything, they're just hurting people."

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Tulare Police are stepping up patrols, making sure people feel safe in their neighborhood, as they search for the shooter.

At just 17 years old, Ella Kienitz was brought to tears while standing at the site of the shooting.

"I don't understand how people can inflict that on other people," she says.

Kienitz is hoping communities all over will help the world become a better place.

"World kindness is what people should do," she says. "You should not hurt people for stupid reasons."

Police are stepping up patrols, making sure people feel safe in their neighborhood, as they search for the shooter.

Tulare City School District, citing state and federal law, says they cannot confirm if the seven-year-old girl was a student at one of their schools.

"The District sends its deepest sympathies to those impacted by the event," Superintendent Brian Hollingshead said as part of a statement. "The District has school counselors available to speak with students who wish to do so."

Tulare City Councilmember Carlton Jones released the following statement:
"Anytime a life is lost, my heart hurts for their families. It breaks my heart when a life is taken in my home town. I know these kids, I grew up with them or their parents. Every time a life is lost in a senseless act, I reminded of the many people our community has lost. They were my friends. Edward Dillihunt, C.C. Gordon, Rosie Holguin, Olandus Perkins, Vince Uranga, Armando Balthazar, Michael Gonzalez, Johntel Reedom, Dynasty Alexander and too many more. It's sad. You can't take it back. All I can do is let these kids and my friends know that I love them. Enough was enough a long time ago and as I remember that past, I worry about our future. As sad as an accidental death is, these are not accidents. Now those responsible need to be brought to justice. May God have mercy and keep D.J. I pray for all those who are injured and traumatized. Especially this baby girl."
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