It's been a year since 14-year-old Jesse Lopez was gunned down in what investigators say was a gang initiation.
Jesse and a friend, also 14, left a quinceñera celebration at the county fairgrounds to hang out with young men they had just met. According to testimony heard during the preliminary hearing for four suspected Sureño gang members facing charges in connection with Jesse's death, the 14 year olds were being set up as part of a "jale" or gang initiation.
Jesse or his friend told the men they were part of the Landis Norteños, according to court testimony. Landis Avenue is a street in Watsonville.
Norteños and Sureños are rivals.
Jesse and his friend rode with the group of young men up Highway 152 toward Hecker Pass. When they pulled off in a gravel turnout, one man opened fire on the boys. Jesse was mortally wounded; a bullet struck his friend in the leg. The friend ran into the brush to hide until the assailants drove away, according to court testimony.
Five men were arrested later that night in Santa Cruz for fighting. They were later charged with crimes related to the deadly shooting. One has admitted his involvement and become a witness for the prosecution, in exchange for a reduced prison sentence. The remaining four defendants will go to trial next year.
There was a candlelight vigil in the City Plaza in the days following Jesse's death. More than 100 people attended, most of them youth.