Last night 12/20/2018 approximately 6:00 PM PST a young man waving a firearm threatened me, my pregnant wife, and 15-month-old son. We had just finished dinner at Maximiliano in Highland Park. The restaurant is walking distance a few blocks from our house. The incident occurred as we were crossing one of our neighborhood intersections. Completely unprovoked, the young man pulled over and through his passenger side window told me I shouldn’t be walking so slowly through the intersection. I suppose I pissed him off since I didn’t engage beyond telling him “thank you very much,” and kept pushing my son in his little car heading towards our final destination for the night which was bathtime for our son before bedtime.
The next thing I knew he threw his vehicle in park and approached us with a weapon. He then went on a tirade “where do I stay?” “Do I know where I am?” Then he told me “You’re in Highland Park and don’t belong here.” At this point, all I could think about was how to get my child and pregnant wife out of harm’s way. I can’t even recall the words that were coming out of his mouth. My mind was completely fixated on survival options.
I did my very best to defuse the situation which apparently was a success because the guy spits on the ground and burned rubber down the street. Quickly I scrambled trespassing on the closest house with an open gate. I grabbed my son from his little car and with my wife by my side found shelter behind a stranger’s home. Thank goodness I did because the guy was back speeding up and down the street looking for us. Can you believe that? I called 911 immediately. It took what seemed forever for the patrol cars to arrive on the scene. I sobbed like a child when I finally felt my family was safe. The officers had to wait for me to compose myself before I could give my statement.
Highland Park is a melting pot of new and old. We’ve witnessed countless progress and positive change including new businesses and new residential housing. Although Highland Park was once known as a haven for gang crime, overall the reported annual crime continues dipping lower each year. As a result, every day more and more working-class families are buying homes we have listed for sale in the neighborhood. My family believes in Highland Park and where the neighborhood and all of the Los Angeles Eastside communities are heading.
At the end of the day, this horrible experience my family and I endured was either a random hate crime and I was villainized as the target or a gang-related territorial incident. Either way, nothing in my families routine or lives will change. We’ll continue to support the Eastside communities. We still believe in Highland Park and all of the positive momentum. Perhaps, my family neighborhood walks will be restricted to before the sunsets. At least for a while…
Do you live in Highland Park? Are you interested in becoming one of our neighbors? A good place to gather information is at the Highland Park Neighborhood Council. It’s a helpful group shaping the way for a better community!