MODESTO, Calif. -- Schools were created to teach. In hard times and tough places, however, they do much more, offering services for families and a safe haven for children.
The south Modesto neighborhood by Bret Harte Elementary and Hanshaw Middle School is a study in peeling white paint, gray chain-link fences, scrappy green patches and wide borders of brown, the hard-packed dirt that serves as sidewalks.
But the colors that define these streets are red and blue.
"We're the red. We're in the red zone. But now it's too close to our school," said Bret Harte parent Maggie Ordaz. Ordaz said "the red" — active Norteño gang members — moved into a home on Glenn Avenue close to the school six months ago. About one month ago, she said, "the blue" Sureño gang members moved in just five houses away.
"It's not in the nighttime. Oh, some people were killed in the streets; it was nighttime. But now it's during the day," Ordaz said with a worried shake of her head. She said big brothers waiting outside Bret Harte had been harassed recently.
"They ask what color do you stand for," she said.
Officials said a gunfight broke out Tuesday afternoon between two rival gang members at homes 150 yards apart on Glenn Avenue. One 15-year-old gang member was shot. He was expected to be released from the hospital Friday, deputies said. Officers searched one of the homes, at 808 Glenn Ave., on Wednesday morning, arrested a 23-year-old man and seized weapons.
Bret Harte, at 909 Glenn Ave., is only a block away from the shooting; Hanshaw is around the corner on Las Vegas Avenue.
The regular school day had ended at Bret Harte and Hanshaw when the Tuesday shootout began at 3:22 p.m.
But students were still in after-school programs and activities, so both schools went into "full lockdown," said Hanshaw Principal Brooke Thomas. When deputies returned to the area Wednesday morning, the schools only went into "precautionary lockdown," she said.
Read more: http://www.modbee.com/2010/12/04/1458147/in-the-crossfire-schools-work.html#ixzz17GUbFJNC