The latest victim of gang violence has been identified as 27-year-old Steven Ryan Valenzuela-Hughes.
Gunned down Apr. 3 on Bottletree Lane near the intersection of Valle Del Oro and Dockweiler Drive, the young man was identified Tuesday by a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Department.
Homicide by gunshot wound was given as the official cause of death, according to the coroner.
The investigation by detectives assigned to the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Homicide Bureau is ongoing. The scant information shared about the case by Det. Q. Rodriguez two weeks ago was merely that the victim was a gang member.
“The victim is a documented member of Brown Familia,” Rodriguez said the day after the fatal shooting, referring to the gang. “At this point, we’re not certain as to the identity of the gang suspected in the shooting.”
Santa Clarita Valley’s most recent gang shooting highlighted the need for persistent community help in confronting gang violence.
Anti-gang task force
Captain Robert Lewis of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station met the issue head on when he dropped in on a meeting of the Anti-Gang Task Force last week.
“Do we have gangs? Yes. Do we have gang problem? No,” Lewis told a group of about two dozen community members taking part in the task force.
Task force members shared updates on the progress of after school programs underway in Newhall and in Canyon Country and on the efforts graffiti removal programs.
Incidents of gang violence in the SCV in 1991 spurred the creation of the Anti-Gang Task Force.
A quarter century later, incidents of gang violence and incidents where gang involvement is suspected only serve to perpetuate the regular meetings of anti-gang task force members.
What’s changed for the Santa Clarita Valley, after more than a quarter century living with gangs, is how the issue has been formally and professionally addressed by community stakeholders who have demonstrated a month-to-month, year-to-year commitment.
Tony Matthess attended the very first meetings of the Anti-Gang Task Force in 1991 and he returned to the same table just last week.
“There’s been a tremendous change,” he told The Signal Wednesday. “Back then, the gang thing was brand new. We didn’t have the different departments and knowledge that we do today.
“There have been so many different positive changes,” he said. “Now you have people speaking about probation issues. The first task force just had people like me, just people who were involved in the community.”
The Anti-Gang Task Force meeting last week featured a variety of people each pursuing different aspects of gang influence such as: educators running after-school programs aimed at junior high school kids most susceptible to gang influence; volunteers removing gang “tag” graffiti; a representative of the county’s probation department and a veteran anti-gang deputy of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
“I was really impressed to see how many departments there were, representing different facets that were going on, all working to the same purpose,” Matthess said.
City of Santa Clarita spokeswoman Carrie Lujan said Anti-gang Task Force meetings “afford the city the opportunity to be in the same room with our partner agencies to communication, collaborate and share pertinent information.”
Since the Anti-Gang Task Force began, incidents of gang violence and incidents where gang involvement is suspected only serve to spur anti-gang task force members to keep meeting regularly.
Shortly after 10:45 p.m. on the night of Jan. 10, 2014, more than three years ago, 25-year-old Jose Eduardo Ocampo collapsed on a Canyon Country street. He had been stabbed multiple times.
After more than three years, his killer remains at large, with no arrests made in the murder.
Ocampo had been stabbed to death on the 18100 block of Sundowner Way in Canyon Country.
Before his identity was released, homicide detectives revealed early on their probe that the killing was possibly being gang-related.
Shortly after 7:45 p.m. on the night of Feb. 14, 2016, a man later identified as a known gang member was shot and killed on a Canyon Country street by a sheriff’s deputy.
Miguel Angel Hernandez, 39, was shot and killed near Shangri-La and Nathan Hill drives after he was pulled over by a deputy.
Before the victim’s name was released, homicide detectives announced the man’s gang affiliation.
“He is a known local gang member, a member of Brown Familia,” Lt. Eddie Hernandez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Homicide Bureau told The Signal at the time.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt