Oxnard shooting victims' family calls for more CCTV cameras to fight crime

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CCTV cameras are being used to fight crime in areas with high rates of violence, including a neighborhood in Oxnard. (KABC)

CCTV cameras are being used to fight crime in areas with high rates of violence, including a neighborhood in Oxnard.

On Feb. 17, 2014, 24-year-old Joshua Van was killed as he walked through his Sierra Linda neighborhood in Oxnard.

"He was my best friend, and I miss him so much," said Van's mother, Cynthia Gonzales.

Despite there being witnesses, no one came forward to police with information about the shooters

"I had a lot of sleepless nights and I started thinking that something had to be done," Gonzales said.

Gonzales started doing research and found that numerous crime-ridden cities saw a drop in crime after the installation of CCTV cameras

"So I started going to the City Council meetings. We tried to go every week," she said.

Then 18 months later, Gonzales' family was hit with another tragedy. Her young cousin, Christopher Camper, was killed less than 1,000 feet from where Van was killed.

"It was in broad daylight. That's how bold the killer was - broad day light. My son was standing at a bus stop," said Camper's mother, Olga Renee Camper.

Again, no witnesses came forward. But just a week ago, the Oxnard Police Department was able to install two CCTV cameras - one is in the area where both of these murders occurred.

"These are overt public-facing camera systems. They're not hidden. They're not covert. We want everybody to know they're there," said Assistant Chief Eric Sonstegard with Oxnard police.

Within a week of being installed, the cameras are already aiding the police.

"Tragically, about 12 hours ago, we had a shooting in which two victims were stuck by gunfire," Sonstegard said. "I know our investigators are looking at the footage from this particular camera."

The police department hopes the cameras serve as a deterrent to crime but also realizes the value of having eyes on a location 24 hours a day.

"Just as importantly, they can provide evidence in investigations if an incident happens in that particular area," Sonstegard said.

The cameras are a comfort to Van's family, but his mom is still fighting for more of them.

"Joshua was also very persistent. That's what I'm striving, you know, to continue," Gonzales said. "Persistent to be able to continue to ask for people to do things to make our community better."

Tuesday, the city council was asked to approve funding for 20 additional cameras, and the police department said it hopes to go back to council members soon with a plan to put up to 100 cameras in neighborhoods with high crime rates.
Related Topics:
newssurveillance cameracrimepoliceviolencesafetyOxnardVentura County
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