City Upon A Hill: Rise up to stop gang violence in West Ventura County


By Michael Hernandez

Invested men must rise up to stop gang violence in our local communities in West Ventura County (Port Hueneme—Oxnard—Ventura).

What can we do?

  • Begin prayer vigils and prayer walks in infected crime neighborhoods.
  • Give invites to local churches in these same neighborhoods.
  • Start Bible studies in each of these neighborhoods.
  • Support Neighborhood Watches working with local police officers.
  • Begin to seek disenfranchised youth to mentor away from risky behaviors.
  • Assist single mothers with the raising of their wayward children.
  • Dads need to model “being a man” to alienated young males.
  • Men need to make themselves available for service projects.
  • Invested men need to support community leaders and law enforcement.
  • Peacemaking efforts are needed to counter racial prejudice and violence.

The time for apathy is over.  The time for action is now.  Look at the local headlines and then begin to take organized community action (engaging community organizations, nonprofits, churches and concerned citizens).  Notice that almost all the homicides were between the hours of 9 p.m. and midnight.  The City of Oxnard has experienced 10 homicides already this year—most of them unsolved crimes and many of them involving gang activity or juveniles.

The 10 Oxnard homicides the first half of this year compares to 12 homicides in 2016 (which is commensurate with the 10-year city average of 12 homicides per year).

Of the 12 Oxnard homicide cases in 2016, 10 are still classified as open investigations;  11 of the 12 victims were male; 11 of the victims were Hispanic and 1 victim was African American.  The predominant murder weapon in 2016 was a firearm; nine of the victims were shot to death.  Five of the homicides are being investigated as gang related while another was classified as a domestic violence related murder/suicide.

A Look at Local Homicide Headlines

Headline (July 5):  Port Hueneme shooting critically  injures 16-year-old

Headline (July 5): Port Hueneme police say shooting victim’s condition has worsened

A Port Hueneme shooting reported about 9:14 p.m. on the Fourth of July at Bolker Drive and Hemlock Street left a 16-year-old boy from Oxnard critically injured suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.  Police are asking for assistance in finding the shooter or shooters.  Those who might have witnessed something are asked to call Detective Rocque Lopez at (805) 986-6578 or to email Lopez at:  [email protected]

The teen was taken to Ventura County Medical Center in critical condition on Tuesday night but authorities on Wednesday said his condition has worsened to grave. They also said the incident is being investigated as a homicide.

Officials revealed Wednesday that there was some type of altercation between the victim and the suspect before the shooting occurred but they did not elaborate on what the argument was about.

Oxnard homicide assistance sought

The City of Oxnard offers a $10,000 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction in homicide cases. If you have information about this homicide, or any of the recent homicides, please contact Sergeant Alex Arnett at (805) 385-7763, or Detective Edgar Fernandez at (805) 385-7645.

If you wish to remain anonymous, you can still provide valuable information to detectives by texting the Violent Crimes Hotline at (805) 394-8370 or (805) 982-7070 or calling Ventura Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477. You can also visit to submit a tip via text or email.

Oxnard Crime Headlines

Headline (June 14):  Homicide Investigation in Oxnard

On June 11, 2017, at approximately 10:19 p.m., the Oxnard Police Department responded to a 9-1-1 call of a subject that was shot in the area of Wilson Park, located at 350 North C Street. The police officers arrived on scene and located a male shooting victim, later identified as 33 year old Eduardo Banales of Oxnard.

On June 13, 2017 at approximately 3 p.m., Mr. Banales died from his injuries associated with the gunshot wounds.  This is Oxnard’s 10th homicide of the year. The motive for the murder is unknown at this time.

The Oxnard Police Department is requesting the Community’s assistance. If anyone has further information about this or any recent homicides, they are encouraged to call Detective Miguel Serrato at (805) 385-7688.

Headline (May 19): 3rd Homicide in Oxnard in the last 3 days

The Oxnard Police Department is investigating the third homicide to occur in the city in the last three days.  This is Oxnard’s ninth homicide of the year and third within the last three (3) days:

  • On May 19th, 42-year old Jorge Coria was shot and killed in the 2700 block of El Dorado Avenue.

Detectives with the Oxnard Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit and the Violent Crimes Unit responded to the scene and took over the investigation from patrol officers. Preliminary investigation has determined that the victim has affiliation with a known Oxnard gang. The motive for the murder is unknown, but gang motivation has not been ruled out. There are no indications that this incident is related to the two homicides earlier in the week.

  • On May 16th, 29 year old Aaron Austin, an African American, was shot with multiple gunshot wounds and killed in the 300 block of North G Street.
  • On May 16th, 23-year old Eduardo Leon Viveros, a Hispanic male, was shot and killed in the 5400 block of Perkins Road and left lying in the west alley. Police officers and investigators spoke to several residents who said they heard gunshots or fireworks the previous evening, but did not report it to the police.

The Oxnard Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit responded to both incidents and is leading both investigations. Detectives do not have any suspect information nor do they have a motive for the murders. These incidents mark the seventh and eighth homicides that have occurred in the city of Oxnard in 2017 with seven homicides between the hours of 9 p.m. and midnight. Investigators are looking into the possibility that the above two crimes are related.

The Oxnard Police Department encourages all residents to be aware of their surroundings and to report any suspicious activity, particularly if they believe they heard gunshots. Both above incidents occurred in densely populated residential neighborhoods. Detectives believe there are residents in those neighborhoods that have information that would be helpful to the investigations.

Officers and detectives from the Oxnard Police Department along with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, and Ventura Police Department, served simultaneous search warrants following these homicides. During the search warrants, a 14 year old juvenile was arrested for attempting to flee from police officers. Police officers and detectives also seized one firearm and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.  Since March 2017, the Oxnard Police Department has arrested 19 individuals for unlawful possession of a firearm.

Headline (April 9):  Oxnard Shooting Victim Leaves behind 4 Young Children

A 32 year old Oxnard resident, who was gunned down in the 1000 block of King Street, has died. The shooting occurred on April 8, 2017, just before 10:00 pm. The Oxnard Police Department responded to the scene after receiving numerous 911 calls of a shooting victim. Oxnard police officers arrived and located the victim, later identified as Angel Ortiz Ramirez, lying in the street.

Angel Ramirez leaves behind four young children. He was also involved in the community as a little league baseball coach and a youth basketball coach. Investigators are still trying to determine why Ramirez was targeted and why he was killed. Major Crimes Investigators are investigating the shooting as a homicide. If anyone has information or knowledge on the murder of Angel Ortiz Ramirez, please contact Detective Steven Ramirez at (805) 385-7760.

This is Oxnard’s sixth homicide of the year and continues a rash of violent activity that has occurred within the city the last thirty (30) days.

  • On March 13th, 44-year old Raul Mandujano was shot and killed in the 100 block of Dolores Court.
  • On March 27th, 17-year old Luis Rodriguez was shot and killed while he rode his skateboard in the 400 block of N. Bonita Avenue.
  • On April 12th, 22-year old Andres Rocha was shot and killed while riding his bicycle in the area of Featherstone Street and San Gorgonio Avenue.

Investigators noted that all four of these homicides have occurred in the late evening hours after 9 p.m. and a majority of them appear to have been gang-related.

The City of Oxnard continues to experience an uptick in violent crime in several neighborhoods with violent crime (including robberies, aggravated assaults) increasing by 3.4% during the first quarter of 2017. One particularly disturbing trend has been a rash of carjackings that occurred in which the suspects were juveniles. Arrests have been made by investigators in these cases, including separate incidents involving 12-year old female and 13-year old male suspects.

The Oxnard Police Department has been focusing efforts on four neighborhoods in particular: Southwinds, La Colonia, Lemonwood, and Hull/Isleton.

In response to the recent events, the Oxnard Police Department has deployed extra resources citywide, with emphasis placed upon the affected neighborhoods in an attempt to deter any future violence. Motorcycle officers, bicycle officers, and Neighborhood Policing Team officers have all been deployed as well as the Special Enforcement Unit.  Resources from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol have also been assisting.

The Oxnard Police Department needs the help and assistance of their community partners to assist in breaking this cycle of violence.  The public is encouraged to report suspicious activity; it is often the public’s actions that have been of great help in addressing crime.

Oxnard Police Chief Scott Whitney stated: “We are committed to having extra resources in each of our affected neighborhoods. We have experienced spikes in violent crime in the past and we address them through a combination of increased enforcement and community assistance. When those involved are of such young age, it’s incumbent on all our community partners to come together to find solutions to the violence.”

Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service, founder of History Makers International, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email: [email protected]

Mr. Hernandez is dedicating himself to advance the 13 spheres –as a “City Upon A Hill”; developing an interactive California citizens news platform as an alternative to mainstream media; while building local school-community partnerships.)

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2 Responses to City Upon A Hill: Rise up to stop gang violence in West Ventura County

  1. Daniel heckman April 27, 2018 at 10:31 pm

    What will bible study and “being a man” do for our community? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Strong morals instilled by parents through quality upbringing matters much more than wasting time with religious indoctrination or traditional gender roles being reinforced in an unhealthy way. “Being a man” by traditional societal norms is what causes a lot of these violent outbursts of gang violence. Stubborn pride. Putting this info into the ether as a means of solving gang violence is toxic; contributing to the problem.

  2. William Hicks July 10, 2017 at 9:41 am



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