Two people, including a 16-year-old boy, were killed and several other teenagers were wounded in an unusual spate of shootings in East Contra Costa County over the past 24 hours, shaking residents and leaving community leaders scrambling to stop the wave of violence.
Three separate shootings, two of them fatal, were reported in Brentwood, Antioch and Pittsburg on Monday, including a drive-by shooting in Brentwood that injured four teenage boys.
Because of the victims' ages, the shootings have been especially tragic.
On Monday, 16-year-old Pittsburg resident Steven Rosalez was shot in the back about 7:45 p.m. during a fight on the 100 block of West Eighth Street. The teen, who had "a lot of potential" and was "a good kid," according to friends and family, died at a hospital. Another 16-year-old boy was also shot during the melee, and he was treated and released from the hospital.
Less than two hours before Rosalez was shot, four Brentwood boys between 13 and 16 years old were wounded in a shooting in the 1100 block of Breton Drive, possibly because their shoes were mistaken for denoting gang affiliation, according to police.
And in Antioch, police found the body of 36-year-old Pittsburg man Albert Masalinto Calceta in the 4500 block of Delta Fair Boulevard, next to a bicycle, early Monday morning. Few details were released in that death.
The slayings were the first homicides of the year in Pittsburg and Antioch.
Speaking about his son Tuesday afternoon, Joe Rosalez said Steven had attended Pittsburg High School, but most recently was enrolled in an independent study program. Rosalez said his son had been involved in sports since a young age, playing baseball and Pop Warner football.
He said he'll remember "a kid that was energetic, had a good outlook and a big social circle -- well-liked, with a positive attitude."
Steven was "good at working with his hands" and did well in classes like workshop, Rosalez said.
Pittsburg High School Principal Todd Whitmire said Steven "had a lot of potential," and had "great parents" who met with Whitmire frequently to try to keep Steven on the right path in school.
Some of Steven's former coaches visited the family's home on Tuesday to pay their respects. They told Rosalez that Steven "was a good kid and it shouldn't have happened to him," he said.
Pittsburg police arrested a 23-year-old man Tuesday morning in connection with Steven's death, yet questions linger about what would lead a man to shoot two boys. Police did not release the suspect's name but said the shooting stemmed from a scuffle that escalated; they did not release the cause of the confrontation.
"Why does anyone think they can solve a problem with a gun?" said Pittsburg Mayor Nancy Parent. "We just had people march on Monday carrying signs that said something about violence being immoral. You just shouldn't do it."
Over the past 10 years, Pittsburg crime rates have dropped, Parent said, noting that the city was doing better than some neighboring cities in holding down violent crime.
"(Police) have done an outstanding job keeping it down," she said. "But we have had 2,013 years where people act violently against each other. It is not going to go away overnight. But police have already arrested someone for this crime; that says a lot."
Possible avenues for explanation in the violence spike could be truancy and student disengagement, said Iris Archuleta, co-founder of the Antioch-based Youth Intervention Network, a partnership of Antioch police, school district officials and 30 county agencies.
She cited a study of students between the ages of 13 and 18 years who attended Antioch schools. The 2008 study identified those two factors as the leading indicators of students who commit crimes or become victims of crimes.
"It is not about ethnicity, it is not about socioeconomics, it's not about one- or two-parent families," said Archuleta, who is also a member of the East County Gang Task Force. "What frustrates me is that we are behaving as if (youth violence) is new, and we are not employing the best practices needed to mitigate (violence), and we are not giving the police department the credit they should be given."
In Brentwood, neighbors struggled to make sense of the drive-by that wounded the four young boys, none of whom were affiliated with gangs, police said.
The teens were standing on a sidewalk in front of a home about 6 p.m. when they were hit by bullets from a passing car with three or four men inside.
But why these four teenagers?
A good question, said neighbor Jonathan Chavez.
He described the neighborhood as a "pretty decent area" made up of four- and five-bedroom houses.
"The neighborhood actually is really quiet," he said. "Usually cops don't come around here that often."
And though the Brentwood police chief said the shooting was tragic, he said even the city of roughly 51,000 is not immune to violence.
"We all touch borders. Crime isn't unique to one city over the other," said Antioch police Chief Allan Cantando. "One city does not have a monopoly on crime, but we are all trying to deal with it collectively. We all recognize that crime moves around."
That may not be enough for some, however.
Brittney Gougeon, founder of the Facebook-based community group Take Back Antioch said the violence Monday is "obviously the symptom of the greater problem."
"This is in an emergency situation," she said. "Hopefully this acts as a catalyst for the cities to work together."
Staff writer Eve Mitchell contributed to this report.