Tragedy on Cleta Street


Norma Flores

Candles, flowers and a poster are placed in front of the Cleta St. residence to pay tribute to Susana Perez, the mother who was killed, on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Suspect Jade Douglas is currently being held in suspicion of the crime.

Kaylee Camacho, Public Relations Manager

On the morning of Oct. 24, five people were shot – three killed and two wounded – in Downey, on Cleta St. The first three victims were shot at a business on Lakewood Blvd. and Cleta St. The second shooting was at a nearby house where two other victims were shot as well. Students became aware of the passing helicopters during Downey High School’s first lunch and the masses quickly began speculating what might have happened. Downey’s fearless leader and principal, Mr. Tom Houts, first sent out a mass email to all teachers and later kept the school updated and advised students and staff that during lunch the gates of the school grounds were locked for the safety of the campus. Chemistry teacher, Alan Jamka, quickly made sure everyone in his class was safe after reading the email.

“The safety of my students was my first priority,” Jamka said, “I made sure nobody was wandering in the hallways and locked my classroom doors.”

Precautions like these, made by teachers, are what keeps Downey High School safe. Teachers like Mr. Jamka played a key role in the safety of students on campus. Although teachers were initially requested not to tell students about the events until details were confirmed, word quickly spread. Laura Beyrooty, 12, had an idea that something was astray during her second block class.

“I knew something was wrong when Ms. Durkee read her email (sent by Mr. Houts) and had a sad and concerned look on her face,” Beyrooty said.

Parents were calling the school to ensure the wellbeing of their children and some even did so much as to call and text their children directly during school. The gates were opened after lunch and the Downey Police were at exits to ensure no one suspicious was let in.

It wasn’t until later that afternoon, at 4p.m. at the press conference, that insight of the tragedy on Cleta Street was detailed. At exactly 11:12 in the morning, police were called to a small business on Cleta St. and Lakewood Blvd. Five minutes later another 911 call was placed about a shooting a block down at a residence. Police later found that these two shootings were ultimately related. Five people were shot-three killed and two injured. Initially it was said that all victims were related, but police later ruled that out.

“We do not believe this was a random attack,” Lt. Dean Milligan of the Downey Police Department said. “There was some specific reason [for the attack], but we don’t know and that is all at this point.”

Friends and family of those killed and injured went to the street, which was closed down by the police department, in search of their loved ones and answers. The first shooting took place at the family owned and operated store, United States Fire Protection Service, where three people were shot and two died. The small business, where the first incident happened, is owned by the same family that lives in the house where a women and thirteen year old boy, that currently attends Sussman Middle School, were shot. The mother died.

This was not only a school-wide concern but this tragedy has been felt throughout the community. Major news networks were at the crime scene reporting on the incident. On Wed., Oct. 24, the suspect was last seen driving away in the stolen black 2010 Chevy Camaro with the license plate 6LEA010. Four suspects were held in custody on Thursday, Oct. 25. Jade Douglas was formally arrested on Oct. 26, and was arraigned on chargers of murder and non-negligence manslaughter Monday, Oct. 29.