Clipped From The Los Angeles Times
For the last decade, even in the face of economic turmoil, crime rates havedropped across the Los Angeles metropolitan area. In the city, homicides are a quarter of the peak levels ofthe early 1990s; crime is expected to fall in 2010 for the ninth year. Yet even with the decline in violence, 1,338 people have been reported shot in L.A. this year. Five-year-old Josue Hercules’ blood still stains the sidewalk on Earl Avenue, where a bullet hit him in the back of the head and lodged over his eye. Rose Smith still wonders what was going through the rival gangsters’ heads when they opened fire in a crowded neighborhood, leaving her permanently paralyzed. Sambo Che’s family fled the Khmer Rouge for Southern California. Then his niece was shot dead as she left a homecoming football game.The way he sees it, the family fled one killing field for another. Three stray bullets. Three innocent people. These cases, part of a two-year effort by Los Angeles Times photographer Barbara Davidson to document victims of street violence, show that in some pockets of the county,life is still precarious. Despite crime- fighting gains, the difference between living and dyingcan be a matter of fate and inches. LATEXTRA, AA6, AND MORE AT LATIMES.COM/VICTIMS CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE photography by barbara davidson Vannaret Ross, top, throws himself on his daughter’s coffin as pallbearers try to comfort him. Melody Ross, 16, was shot dead in front of her Long Beach high school as she and her friends were leaving the homecoming football game. Josue Hercules, above, survived the stray bullet that tore through his head while he was playing in front of his Long Beach apartment. But the boy will remain physically, emotionally and mentally scarred.