Community taking action after murder of Trenton teen

February 27, 2014 12:04:43 PM PST
18-year-old Julio Cesar Cruz Cruz had just moved to the United States from Guatemala when he was killed outside a friend's home in Trenton 10 days ago.

His murder sparked outrage and action by residents of the Spanish-speaking community. They are banding together to make sure tragedies like the death of Cruz don't happen again.

"I'm always looking front and back wherever I walk because I'm myself scared," said Aida Hernandez.

Hernandez watches where she walks. And like many in the Chambersburg section of Trenton is concerned about what she feels is an increase in robberies and assaults targeting the Spanish-speaking community - some of whom walk because they don't have a driver's license and carry their cash because they don't have bank accounts.

They're referred to in street slang as "walking ATMs."

Hernandez explains, "For the Guatemalans, yeah, those are the ones that be targeted... Because they know they're hardworking people and a lot of them don't got papers and they have their money on them."

Trenton's Latino community galvanized after the February 15th murder of 18-year-old Julio Cesar Cruz Cruz. A Guatemalan who'd been in the U.S. only a matter of weeks and was about to start a job, Cruz was killed outside his Rusling Avenue home in what police think was am attempted robbery.

Cruz's family wants justice, and so do community leaders who are meeting with police, pastors, the prosecutor's office and local officials to plan for a city-wide safety summit in April.

Community activist Juan Martinez tells Action News, "Community activists want to canvass the neighborhood hoping to generate leads in the Cruz murder and convince crime victims who may be here illegally it's safe to come forward."

Marwin Bravo of Hamilton Township says, "They'll say deportation things. They're afraid. They say, 'I'd rather lose a couple hundred bucks than people send me back home.'"

Trenton Police Director Ralph Rivera tells us, "If they're a victim of crime the focus is not gonna be on them, that they're here illegally in the country or the state. The focus is gonna be on the person who committed the crime against them, the perpetrator."

Among the many groups at today's meeting was a local bank who offered to set up accounts for immigrants who don't have a social security number, but can provide identification.

After the local community raised enough money to send his body back home, Julio Cesar Cruz Cruz was buried today in Guatemala.

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