Coachella Residents React to Region’s Rising Homicide Rate

Alicia Ferrarios, Victoria Torres, and Vicenta Chavid at Coachella Senior Center.

COACHELLA, CA — If current trends continue, the Coachella Valley is on pace to far exceed last year’s 20 homicides. Through June 2011, the region has already experienced 15 homicides from Desert Hot Springs to Thermal. At this time last year, there were eight homicides.

Although only one of these homicides has occurred within Coachella city limits, residents expressed mixed reactions when asked about safety in their community.

Coachella Residents on Safety

“I am grateful that I haven’t really had any problems in the five years I have spent in my house. I don’t feel that it’s a risk to go outside when I need to.” – Alicia Ferrarios, 74, Coachella
Translated from Spanish

“We live in Thermal. It’s basically a ranch and we are calm and secure. At night you feel uneasy because there’s no one around, not because you think there might be.” – Victoria Torres, 72, Thermal
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“The neighbors are nice and mind their own business; no one walks around causing trouble. Everything is very good in my neighborhood and I hope that it stays that way.” – Vicenta Chavid, 73, Coachella
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Luz Vasquez on 6th Street

“(Last year) my son was beat up after he got off the school bus. We called the police at 4 p.m. They arrived at 9 p.m.” – Luz Vasquez, 51, Coachella
Translated from Spanish

“I live in Placitas De La Paz and there are two abandoned homes in front of my house that are all tagged up and vandalized. I call the police about them but nothing is done, and I know stuff is going on in there because I can smell the drugs a lot of the time.” – Veronica Vargas, 22, Coachella (Not pictured)

Leticia Casillas on 6th Street

“I feel safe. I have never had any problems. Many families have been complaining that people are stealing their flower arrangements and solar lights. I think that’s why they put the gates in (at the cemetary). “ – Leticia Casillas, 42, Indio. Casillas has worked at Casillas Funeral Home in Coachella for 13 years.

“Truthfully I’ve always felt safe where I live, and there’s nothing that I’m really worried safety wise. I go out walking with my daughters in the evening and everything is calm.” – Brenda Acosta, 36, Coachella (Not pictured)
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“I’ve lived at my house for seven years without any problems; the biggest safety issue is a canal that’s become dangerous.” – Francisco Rodriguez, 58, Coachella (Not pictured)
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Maria Godwin at Coachella Senior Center

“I feel safe right here. When we aren’t here, we are home. It is different being with people, we feel good with so many people around the senior center.” – Maria Godwin, 73, Coachella

“I feel safe. There’s nothing keeping me inside my house.” – Horina Rodriguez, 50, Coachella (Not pictured)

“You know what? I’ve never really questioned the security of my community, I think because it hasn’t been an issue. Where I live on, 52nd and Ponderosa, they built a new school and I’ve never witnessed anything that makes me feel unsafe.” – Maria Gomez, 23, Coachella (Not pictured)

“A bunch of people are always roaming around trying to see what they can steal. I live on 6th street and I don’t like the neighborhood.” – Eva Robles, 26, Coachella (Not pictured)

Rafael Ayala at Coachella Senior Center

“The important thing is we have this place (Senior Center), our second home. The Coachella Valley is very protected by the police. You rarely see troublemakers anymore.” – Rafael Anaya, 61, Coachella
Translated from Spanish

Coachella Unincorporated reporters Raymond P. Bondad, Maricruz Cabrera, Aurora Saldivar and Jesus Vargas contributed to this story.

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