Vargas: Besides innocent victim, gang-related homicide lays waste to five young lives


Five young people were arrested this week on suspicion of homicide in Anaheim.

In custody for the Nov. 14 shooting death of Eduardo Curiel Molina were Fernando Jesus Castillo, 19; Martin Fernando Diaz, 21; Sabrina Marie Varela, 18; Albert Jose Curiel, 20, and a male juvenile.

All five have been booked on suspicion of homicide with special enhancements for being in a criminal street gang.

According to Anaheim PD Det. Laura Lomeli, Molina, 36, was not a gang member.

He just happened to live in the neighborhood.

A memorial for the victim, Xxxxx. Photo by Joe Vargas/Behind the Badge OC

A memorial for the victim, Eduardo Curiel Molina, 36, at the Ponderosa Joint Use Library, 240 E. Orangewood Ave., Anaheim. Photo by Joe Vargas/Behind the Badge OC

The presence of street gangs in neighborhoods endangers everyone who lives there.

A long history of innocent victims killed in drive-by shootings across the county validates this fact over and over again.

The killing of Eduardo Molina is a reminder to all of us how dangerous the presence of gangs is.

I’m certain Mr. Molina’s family and friends have all been deeply affected by his untimely passing.

Mr. Molina fell victim to a bunch of thugs who thought it would be a good idea to demonstrate their collective machismo by shooting an unarmed guy on a bicycle.

With the additional enhancements, all of the suspects in this case are looking at spending the majority of their adult years in prison if convicted.

Even if one person pulled the trigger the law is very clear: Anyone who was in the vehicle is equally guilty under the law.

Photo by Joe Vargas.

Photo by Joe Vargas.

When I look at the ages of the suspects I think to myself, “What a waste of lives.”

Just a few years ago, these suspects were just kids. Barely into adulthood, they have just graduated to becoming hard-core criminals.

If convicted, they will be spending the majority of their lives in prison — five young people that for some senseless reason felt it was OK to drive around at 12:30 in the morning and shoot someone.

It’s difficult to understand the mentality of someone who would do something like that. But it happens more often than anyone would like.

These wasted lives are another reason why we should all be passionate about reaching young kids and helping them develop the skills necessary to avoid becoming involved in gangs.

The Anaheim Police Department and Orange County District Attorney’s office have long been committed through the Cops 4 Kids program and GRIP (Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership) in doing so.

Law enforcement is doing its part. Gang members still are being arrested every day, and the jails are pretty full.

What is needed is for communities to step up and do more.

It’s not that difficult. Targeted prevention programs are effective and go a long way toward making communities safer and improving the quality of life for everyone.

Volunteering at after-school programs, mentoring young men and women or just supporting those who do can go a long way toward making sure we don’t see young people waste their lives away in prison.

For these five young suspects, it’s just a little too late.

Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at