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Riverside Police ask for help in rash of unsolved murders

July 26, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A series of unsolved murders in a Riverside neighborhood that's plagued by gang activity: People there are living in fear, and that's making it harder to solve the crimes.

So far this year, there have been three unsolved homicides in one Riverside neighborhood. All happened within one mile of each other. Police believe two rival gangs are going at it, and consequently innocent people are dying.

Like many others on Riverside's eastside, Bernice Hobdy says she lives in fear after her grandson Lareanz Simmons was shot dead five months ago, right in front of their home.

"They got him right in back of the head, and he just fell, and I still see my grandson laying there," said Hobdy.

Hobdy says she's afraid to go outside after dark, especially given the gang activity all around.

"I didn't know there were so many gangs. It's not a safe street, it's not a safe place," said Hobdy.

But Lareanz Simmons isn't the only shooting victim this year. Gregory Ball, 37, was gunned down just up the street in January. And last month, 29-year-old Ashanti Hassan was shot dead, just a few blocks away in the other direction.

Since January, there have been a total of eight shooting victims in the neighborhood; three of them have died.

People on the eastside are calling for whatever help they can get to bring an end to the violence.

"Innocent people are being killed, that's the point. These aren't gang members that are being killed. Innocent people are being killed by gang members," said Riverside resident Eddie Talbert.

And because gangs are involved, Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz says people are afraid to help with information.

"We think that there are people in the larger community that have information that could be useful and they're not talking," said Diaz.

And because of that, these cases are going cold. That's why he's pleading for people who know something to come forward.

"You don't have to solve the crime for us. Point us in the direction and we can do a lot," said Diaz.

As for Simmons' grandmother, she also hopes someone comes forward to help bring justice for the murder of her grandson.

"If it takes a year, if it takes more than that, I'm not going to have any peace until whoever did this is caught," said Hobdy.

There is a $50,000 reward in the Simmons case.

If you have information related to these cases, contact the WeTip Hotline at (800) 78-CRIME (7463). You can remain anonymous.

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