Police reported today that with the assistance of the Mission District plainclothes team, they have arrested a 15-year-old male juvenile in connection with the murder of 22-year-old Gaspar Puch-tzek.

Just after midnight on August 30, Puch-tzek got off work and went to take a break with two of his co-workers around the corner on San Carlos near 19th Street.

Witnesses said that two people approached them and asked what colors they claimed. None, Puch-tzek said.

One of the two then shot the line cook in the face. He died early the next morning.

“The two suspects believed that the victim was a gang member and that isn’t the case,” Officer Carlos Manfredi said.

At a monthly community meeting at the end of August, Captain Corrales said, “Often the only justice that prevails in these things is street justice.”

The latest breakthrough is unusual in a case like this.

Police said that “after a month-long investigation, drawing upon the cooperation of community members and merchants, police inspectors developed probable cause to charge the juvenile with one count of homicide, two firearms violations and a gang enhancement.”

The juvenile was arrested while being held on unrelated charges at San Francisco’s Juvenile Justice Center, police reported.

His name is being withheld, according to juvenile privacy laws.

Puch-tzek, who friends and co-workers called Tio, came to the United States with his twin brother and had been living in San Francisco for about four years. He was buried two weeks ago in his hometown of Xul-Oxkutzcab, in the Yucatan region of Mexico.

He was working two jobs at the time of his death.

We will update this story as we get more information.

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The Mission District has always been Ryan Loughlin’s favorite neighborhood in the City. The tacos of La Taqueria remind him of the food that his host mother used to cook when he was living in Guanajuato, Mexico. As a crime reporter he is getting to know the other side of the area. No, he is not scared (yet). On the contrary, he wants to learn more about all the community organizations that work with kids to keep them off the streets.

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  1. New SFU chair will study youth violence
    Professor Robert McMahon, an internationally renowned clinical child psychologist, has been appointed chair of a new Simon Fraser University program designed to investigate ways to prevent and reduce violence among young people.
    By Vancouver Sun January 25, 2011 Be the first to post a comment

    Professor Robert McMahon, an internationally renowned clinical child psychologist, has been appointed chair of a new Simon Fraser University program designed to investigate ways to prevent and reduce violence among young people.

    The new $4.5-million B.C. Leadership Chair in Proactive Approaches to Reducing Risk for Violence Among Children and Youth is the first of its kind in the province.
    “[It] will allow me to launch a program of interdisciplinary research to better understand the causes and development of violence and other serious conduct problems in children and adolescents, and most critically, to develop more effective prevention and treatment strategies,” said McMahon.

    Children and Family Development Minister Mary Polak, who announced the chair, said the goal was to establish B.C. as a national and international leader in the field.
    “We know that vulnerable children and youth need access to a continuum of integrated services, encouraging health growth, functioning and pro-social development,” she said.

    Researchers know where the main causes of aggressive behaviour come from — individual characteristics, the family or peer groups. “But what we haven’t nailed down is how all these things interact.”

    The chair will also establish an Institute for the Reduction of Youth Violence at both SFU and the Child and Family Research Institute funded by a $500,000 grant from the children’s ministry.
    The chair’s endowment of $4.5 million includes $2.5 million from the provincial government’s Leading Edge Endowment Fund with matching funds from SFU.
    © (c) CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.

  2. Anti-gang strategy takes a health tack
    $1.1M grant funds early prevention
    Herald Staff Writer
    Posted: 09/13/2011 01:25:39 AM PDT
    Updated: 09/13/2011 07:32:25 AM PDT

    Those on the front lines of Salinas gang violence often speak in terms of triage.

    How do we stop this week’s retaliatory shootings? Which violent gang members can we get off the street today?

    Those who work in public health think differently.

    That’s because they look at violence the way doctors look at the spread of diseases.

    Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin said that makes sense. After all, homicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people in the U.S. In some years, it’s the leading cause of death among young Latino males in cities like Salinas.

    Doctors have long preached that prevention is much cheaper and far easier on the patient in the long run.

    “Prevention is the foundation of the nation’s public health system. Youth violence is preventable,” Benjamin said earlier this year.

    She said that in the past 10 years, research has shown youth violence prevention efforts can be “cost-effective, scientifically supported and proven to work.”

    Monterey County Public Health Director Hugh Stallworth agrees.

    “If we can prevent something, it’s less expensive over the long run and it’s easier on the person,” he said.

    Under Stallworth’s direction, Salinas will be one of four American cities funded to take the concept of violence prevention to a new level using public health strategies.

    Salinas, Houston, Boston and Portland, Ore., are partners in Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere, known as STRYVE, a national
    initiative to prevent youth violence led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    To study and implement earliest-stage violence prevention over the next five years, the Monterey County Health Department has received a $1.125 million grant from the CDC.

    Starting young

    Unlike traditional violence prevention programs that work closely with individuals, public health experts like to step back and take a wide-angle view.

    “We look at groups of people — factors in the family, the community,” said Linda McGlone, in charge of special projects at the county’s Public Health Bureau. “We look at how to shift a population over.”

    In a sort of micro-version of the famous Framingham Heart Study, which followed more than 5,000 people through three generations to learn the causes and warning signs of heart disease, officials in Salinas will spend the next five years trying to find out when Salinas youth do or don’t fall into violent lifestyles — and why.

    “The beauty of it is looking at a hundred kids,” Stallworth said. “Let’s see what are some of the factors, early warning signs. It’s information that we can use.”

    Although the number of studies measuring gang intervention efforts is growing, little research has been done on catching warning signs in very young children — long before they’re considered “at risk,” Stallworth said.

    He describes three stages of disease prevention, and says they apply to violence, too.

    Primary prevention might be giving a vaccine to a child and preventing a disease before exposure. Secondary prevention might be “catching it early,” he said.

    “Tertiary prevention is lying in the emergency room with a heart attack,” Stallworth said. “Something bad has already happened.”

    He stressed that even then, “All is not lost. You can change your way of living and do very well. But at that point, things are very expensive and very hard on the patient.”

    It’s that first stage that interests Stallworth most.

    By the time a youth is wearing red or blue and sketching gang symbols in a schoolbook, the “disease” has already taken hold, he said.

    “The kid that’s already in the gang is not where we’re going to go” with this research, Stallworth said.

    Education correlation

    What public health officials look for in disease prevention are corollaries. Not much exercise, a fatty diet and smoking are corollaries to heart trouble.

    “We talk about correlations, not causes,” he said.

    Stallworth suspects that a poor education is one likely corollary to involvement in gangs and violence.

    “We see it not only in Western countries, but all over the world,” he said. “We know that the better the education, the healthier people are. Not just health, but taking part in healthy activities — like better nutrition, exercise, not smoking.”

    Stallworth said successful, healthy kids have “some kind of education experience. It may not be formal. But they have the belief that tomorrow will be better than today. If you don’t have that, there’s going to be no incentive for protective behavior.”

    McGlone said she has seen the lack of that hope when speaking with gang-involved youths in custody.

    “They say, ‘I’m not going to be here in 10 years,'” she said.

    Compounding the problem, local educators estimate about 20 percent of youths in juvenile hall and the Monterey County Youth Center have some kind of learning disability. That’s double the rate of normal classrooms, McGlone said.

    All of this is just the kind of local data that are already available and will be studied during the STRYVE program’s first year in Salinas.

    After that, local health officials, with advice from the CDC and help from the county’s Community Alliance for Safety and Peace, will seek out partners to test a number of promising prevention approaches for a year or more.

    In the final phase of the five-year project, results will be analyzed and more funding sought for the strategies that are shown to work.

    This kind of rigorous evaluation sets the public health approach aside from some popular gang-prevention programs that may seem promising but are untested.

    “This is not business as usual,” McGlone said. “We’ve spent millions of dollars doing the same things over and over.”

    ‘Not a quick fix’

    Combined with data from the other three cities, results from the STRYVE-funded pilot test programs in Salinas will be used to help other communities around the country.

    As the only agricultural community in the program, Salinas’ research could help other rural communities, McGlone said.

    Still, health officials know that even with the right knowledge, making community-wide changes can be slow going.

    “This is going to take some time,” Stallworth said. “People turn away from (prevention) because you’re talking about a generation. This is not a quick fix.”

    He said many others, including Salinas police, are doing good work in trying to lower Salinas shooting rates for the short term, especially with the research-based Ceasefire model.

    Prevention, intervention and suppression are all important, he said.

    But his role is more that of a patient doctor. Or maybe gardener.

    “The rose bush doesn’t start out with pretty roses on it,” he said. “This is a process that flowers along the way.”

    Julia Reynolds can be reached at 648-1187 or jreynolds@montereyherald.com.

    Preventing youth violence

    To study and implement earliest-stage violence prevention, the Monterey County Health Department has received a $1.125 million grant from the CDC. Here’s a breakdown of the five-year plan.

    First year: Gather and evaluate local data
    Second/third years: Implement test programs
    Fourth year: Continue and evaluate
    Fifth year: Evaluate best practices and add them to the Community Strategic Plan, developed by the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace.

    Source: Monterey County Health Department

  3. Now that they got this dude, can we get the rest of his friends? Can you make him talk? we gotta clean the Mission from its gang members.