SUN VALLEY (CBS) — Two young men were shot July 12 at Summer Night Lights, a landmark “anti-gang” initiative in Sun Valley.

The incident happened on the 8100 block of Vineland Avenue during the annual program that helps entice residents to enjoy city parks normally riddled with crime or gangs. It was the first act of violence since the program started.

Police said two gang members targeted a 17-year-old with ties to the gang. He was trying to break free by working with the city and its anti-gang youth program. The teen was shot in the hand.

“One of them opened fire with a .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun and struck one of the workers,” said LAPD Gang Detail Det. John Weiler.

The gunfire also struck a 22-year-old who was working with the program.

“(He) saw a man with a gun, and attempted to usher the kids and the staff back in to protect them, and wound up being shot in the back of the head,” said Weiler.

Both men are expected to be okay.

However, police don’t want the incident to deter residents from enjoying public parks.

“I would encourage people to come out and enjoy your party. That’s what we want. That’s what the parks are for,” said LAPD Sgt. Michael Hammett.

Resident Alexander Lizarraga isn’t afraid to visit the parks.

“Kids are already used to that. They see that every day, and if people are really wise, they wouldn’t let that deter them,” said Lizarraga.

Lizarraga supports police officers helping to make it safer.

“It’s not just about those troubled kids. It’s about everyone coming together,” he said.

Last year, there were shootings at Summer Night Lights events in South Los Angeles, but police said the program works and has reduced shootings in these high crime areas.


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