Neighborhoods all across San Antonio were celebrating National Night Out on Tuesday, which is about empowering neighborhoods to keep their streets crime-free. Unfortunately, the city's east side has been plagued with violence, especially in recent weeks.
“He’s always smiling, always smiling, always laughing, even if we were getting after him, he always laughed,” said Mona Cruz of her 19-year-old nephew Eddie Lopez.
Lopez was walking on South Pine Street and Nevada Street on Sunday afternoon when a car pulled up and someone opened fire, hitting Lopez several times.
“Once in the chest, two on the side, and once on the hip,” Cruz described.
Lopez is the latest murder in a spike of shootings that have plagued the city’s east side. However, his family does not want Lopez to become just another statistic.
“He had family, we loved him, he was loved. He wasn’t some little thug, he wasn’t out here looking for trouble. He was walking to his friend’s house,” Cruz explained.
Less than two days later, a National Night Out event as held just a few blocks away. The NNO events are designed to increase awareness of crime and drug prevention, while strengthening police-community relations.
“As many arrests as we make, it doesn’t cure the problem [of violence]. It stops it for awhile until the next round. And this has been going on for all the years that I’ve been here,” SAPD Chief William McManus said.
Chief McManus added that plenty of resources have and will continue to be dedicated to the east side, but he also noted that the violence is often driven by gangs, drugs, and lack of respect for life. The department also needs more communication from community members.
“Police departments work with the community all year long to plan these nights, and when the communities work with the police departments, they feel safer, things work better,” Chief McManus said.
As for Lopez’s murder, police have only said that they’re looking for a silver or gray sedan that was seen by witnesses leaving the scene on Sunday.
Cruz said that Lopez had just turned 19 in August and leaves behind a 2-year-old son.