La Puente fireworks show sees less attendees after recent shootings

LA PUENTE, Calif. (KABC) -- A heavy police presence kept things safe and sane for Wednesday night's annual pre-Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza in La Puente.

The threat of gang violence kept some people on edge, while others avoided the celebration completely.

Fireworks at La Puente Park every July 3 is a tradition that normally brings out as many as 20,000 members of the community. Wednesday's celebration saw far less after a string of shootings and a social media post threatening a shootout at the Independence Day gathering between rival gangs.

"I received a call today telling me about the guns and everything, so I was afraid to come today, but I said, well, there's going to be a lot of police," said La Puente resident Claudia Navarro.

From the beginning, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said the social media threat was baseless, and they encouraged the community to attend the fireworks.

But La Puente has seen multiple fatal shootings in a span of days, and three people have been killed.

"It's really sad because near my house there was a shooting last week. They killed somebody, so you feel afraid of living here right now," Navarro said.

"We have had an increase in gang activity. We believe as a result of that, we've had some shootings. Based on that, we've brought in a lot more deputies," said LASD Capt. Bobby Wyche.

Residents who attended say they were comforted by the increased law enforcement presence and say it wouldn't be July 4th without this annual event.

"It's a family thing," said La Puente resident Fernando Rios. "We try and do it for the little ones. It should be a family fun night. I really hope it's just false threats."

The LASD said it has put together a team of detectives to put an end to the rise in shootings, something that is rare for the community.
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