Mayor responds to public outcry after shootings at Chula Vista park

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. — A week after a pair of shootings left a 17-year-old boy dead and a 15-year-old wounded at the same South Bay park, Chula Vista’s mayor responded to calls for more law enforcement in the area as investigators search for the gunmen.

In a statement released Wednesday, Mayor Mary Casillas Salas sought to assure residents who she acknowledges are frustrated and concerned after the pair of shootings at Sunset View Park in Eastlake, which police deemed “very abnormal.”

“My heart goes out to the families of the two young men that were shot,” Salas wrote. “While few details have been published, please rest assured that our Chula Vista Police Department is conducting a thorough investigation to bring those responsible to justice.”

The 15-year-old boy was shot and wounded during some kind of argument in a park bathroom on March 6. He was hospitalized but survived the incident. Less than a week later, the 17-year-old was gunned down after visiting the same park with friends and getting into an altercation with another group.

Authorities have not publicly identified either victim or said for certain if the two shootings are connected.

After the violent week at the park, Salas says she’s received calls for expanding the city’s law enforcement efforts, including creating a substation in the eastern part of the city. “However, counter to what one might expect or believe, police officers do not sit at a desk or station waiting to be dispatched. Officers are constantly out on patrol and responding to calls for service,” Salas wrote. “A substation is a huge investment that would cost millions of dollars to build and around $2 million per year to operate, with no improvement in response times.”

The mayor said 72% of the city’s budget goes to police and fire officials, “more funding than any other department.” She added CVPD currently has the most authorized positions it has ever had, and that it is continuing to recruit more police officers, while acknowledging “it takes a long time to vet and hire good police officers.”

In the days after the shootings, officers could be seen making regular rounds past the park and into its parking lots. Gun violence is uncommon in the suburban neighborhood. “This is not an area where we expect to have incidents like this,” Chula Vista Police Lt. Dan Peak told FOX 5 after the second shooting.

Anyone with information about the shootings was asked to contact CVPD detectives on their non-emergency line, 619-691-5151.

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