"Let's do it for my brother", Stephanie Sites said to a small crowd in City Heights on Wednesday.
The crowd had gathered in the same cul-de-sac where Sites' brother, 18-year-old Stephen Cormier, had been murdered one year earlier. Police say Cormier walked out into the street with a man wearing a mask. The suspect shot Cormier several times, and remains at large.
"He loved to laugh, and just make people laugh," said Sites.
"It took part of my soul. It took part of my soul," repeated Cormier's Father, Mark Cormier, "But he's with me every day in strength and spirit."
Family members say they do not believe Stephen was in a gang, but it is a neighborhood police say is plagued with gang violence.
"I've been a police officer for 27 years and they've been here and an issue for that whole time," said San Diego Police Capt. Lawrence McKinney.
According to crime statistics, in the first five months of 2010, there have been 138 violent crimes within a one mile radius of that murder scene. Three of those crimes were homicides.
McKinney spoke passionately to the crowd on Wednesday. "One kid getting hurt out on our streets is too many, and I'm not having it," he said.
Police have started increased curfew patrols at night and truancy sweeps during the day in hopes of keeping kids out of trouble, according to McKinney. But he called on the community to help out as well, a call being answered by Stephanie Sites, her father, and several community groups. Volunteers are taking part in citizen patrols of the neighborhood. The groups have also worked to get streetlights turned back on. The light hanging over that cul-de-sac at 40th Street just north of El Cajon Blvd was out the night of the murder. And the end goal is to hopefully turn an empty dirt lot near the murder scene into a park.
"I would prefer it to be a place where families can come hang out with their kids, and enjoy their children," said Cormier.
After her brother's murder, Stephanie Sites made a promise to get better grades and get involved in the community. A year later, she is still keeping that promise.
"I think he would give me a big hug," she said, "And tell me he was really proud of me, like he always used to do."
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