WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A 25-year-old Wichita man is dead after police say he got caught in the crossfire of a possible gang related shooting. It happened Saturday evening in the 3900 block of East 13th Street North. Police identified him on Tuesday as Erick Vazquez.
In the two days since that victim’s death, a makeshift memorial in his honor has continued to grow near where the shooting took place.
Many friends, family members and even just people who wanted to pay their respects have lit candles and brought flowers to that memorial.
KSN spoke with several people who say the victim, known as “Oso,” meaning bear in Spanish, was a big brother type to many people.
David Gilkey, a Co-Founder for Rise Up For The Youth, says Wichita’s latest homicide sends a strong message to the community.
“Any time you have people shooting in broad daylight that tells the community that we aren’t scared to open up fire, shoot, whatever we have to do in our community,” said Gilkey.
Gilkey’s organization focuses on mentoring young girls and boys, as well as working towards ending gang violence.
He says this type of violence is causing people to lose their lives for no reason.
“It’s very reckless, you know, you are talking about a place where people go to eat and get their haircut and different things like that, it could have been kids involved, innocent kids losing their lives,” said Gilkey.
Lt. Todd Ojile with the Wichita Police Department says they believe the victim was simply caught in the crossfire, as two groups of people fired at each other.
“During the investigation, detectives learned the victim and a friend had come to that strip mall to purchase cigarettes,” said Lt. Ojile.
As for those who are working to deter violence, like Gilkey, he’s left with some questions.
“When is this going to stop, how many people are going to have to lose their lives, everyone suffers from this, there is no win-win situation,” said Gilkey
Police are asking that anyone who has any information about the shooting to contact Crimestoppers at 267-2111.
The shooting marks the 19th homicide in Wichita, so far this year.