Oak Den residents say gang-related shooting shows bigger neighborhood problem

Wednesday , July 20, 2016 - 6:00 AM5 comments

LEIA LARSEN, Standard-Examiner Staff

An Ogden family said Tuesday’s early morning violence is a sign of their neighborhood’s growing insecurity. 

Police reported a gang-related shooting of a 37-year-old man at around 1 a.m. at the intersection of 23rd Street and Monroe Boulevard. Sisters Vanessa Ramirez, 15, and Graciela Zamora, 27, live just feet away. Their sister’s silver SUV became part of the crime scene when it was hit by a stray bullet. 

“At first I thought it was fireworks, but you could tell they weren’t fireworks,” Vanessa said. “We didn’t want to go outside because we were scared they were still out there.”

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Vanessa said she heard yelling after the shots. Numerous police cars arrived on the scene within minutes. Officers began taping off the sidewalk in front of her home. The girls have lived in the same house most of their lives. Their mother was raised there.

Graciela said she was asleep at the time of the shooting and didn’t know anything was going on until the police arrived. Still, she’s not completely surprised the shooting was tied to gang activity. She’s noticed a presence in the area. 

“We know a few (who are gang members), or they look like they are ... they’ve been in prison,” Graciela said. “And they’re not like the young gang members, they’re like old gang members, that’s when you know it’s serious ... 30 and over.” 

Graciela’s cousin, 14-year-old Osvaldo Ramos, lives on the other side of the intersection. He saw around seven police cars roll into the area early Tuesday morning. His aunt called and warned his family about the shooting.

Osvaldo has noticed people hanging around his block who he suspects are gang members, too. 

“It’s kind of how they dress, (their) tattoos, they’re always up at night smoking,” he said.

The family members discussed various police response incidents they’ve seen at neighboring houses over the past several months. 

Osvaldo’s mother, Brenda Zamora, 30, has lived near the 23rd Street and Monroe Boulevard intersection for 23 years. She said she remembers a drive-by shooting several years ago.

“But it’s been a long time. Everything seemed quiet, but lately there’s been more action, more crime,” she said. 

The victim was shot in the abdomen, although police said there’s no indication the man was in life-threatening condition. He was transported to the hospital, and no arrests were made as of 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Sentiments about the neighborhood don’t seem to be the same among all residents. Larry Neal lives just around the corner from the Tuesday morning crime scene. He didn’t know there was a shooting.

“I thought they were firecrackers so I didn’t even bother getting up,” he said.

Neal has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years. He said he’s never noticed a gang presence.

Asked whether she feels safe in her neighborhood, however, Vanessa responded, “No. But it’s home.”

Contact Reporter Leia Larsen 801-625-4289 or llarsen@standard.net. Follow her on Facebook.com/leiaoutside or on Twitter @LeiaLarsen.

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