Monday’s shooting death at Venice High School has left that community awash in confusion about the details of what happened, trepidation about what it may or may not mean for the future and even a numbness in facing the present.
Agustin Contreras, 17, a student, was shot and killed in the faculty parking lot at the school during an altercation that is believed to have involved both students and non-students. There was some confusion as to racial or gang affiliations in the incident; teachers and police said that Contreras was a good student who was not involved in gangs. At this writing, no arrest has been made.
On Tuesday evening, Los Angeles City Council member Bill Rosendahl hosted a previously scheduled town hall meeting at the Oakwood Recreation Center in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles “to address rising racial tension” in the area. Although the meeting was held the day after the shooting and an LAPD search of the Oakwood area following the shooting, a wide variety of other topics were addressed that evening – topics as specific as the removal of dominos tables and the quality of lunches served at the rec. center to topics as broad as police respect for area residents and the effects of gentrification in Venice.
Theresa Skinner, LAPD Senior Lead Officer at the Pacific Division, said that police had looked for a young man [in the Oakwood area] for several hours Monday afternoon, that they found him and that he was later released. Also with reference to the shooting, in a general way, Melvin Hayward of Venice 2000 urged parents to involve their children in after school programs as an alternative to gangs, Stan Muhammad of the Venice Neighborhood Council expressed wariness at the local mood and Venice High teacher Bob Hedges called for securing the front of the campus along Venice Blvd.
Little was said concerning the particular events of Monday.