Community comes together to take back park - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Community comes together to take back park

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - An Oceanside community came together Sunday to take back a place that's been plagued by violence.

Over the last few years four people have been killed at Libby Lake Park, but now residents are taking a stand.

"It's affected pretty much a lot of people," Wendy Elias said. 

It is a sad reminder of the tragedies that have taken place at Libby Lake Park. 

"This neighborhood used to be very quiet, and now it's shocked everybody that this even ever happened," Elias said. 

In the last three years, there have been two fatal shootings in the Oceanside park, and each time two teenagers were killed. Wendy Elias' daughter knew all four of them. 

"My daughter woke up crying, saying mom you're never going to guess what happened. And I just couldn't believe it," Elias said. 

The shootings had a huge impact on the teens of this community. Isabelle Fried, a teacher at El Camino High School, saw it first hand. 

"Their grades, their attitudes, their behaviors took a turn, for not the negative...just the desperate part of death and loss of life," Fried said. 

But over time she's also seen these teens overcome tragedy. 

"Really emboldened it to make changes, to make positive changes, especially I've seen with the students," Fried said. 

And that's what Sunday's event was all about. A chance for the community to come together without fear. Organizers sold food and shirts to raise money for a memorial bench they want to put in the park. They're also working with city officials to make Libby Lake the place it used to be. 

"We're trying to see if we can get with the city and make sure there's more security here...more lighting because it's very dark after hours," Elias said. 

For these teens, the bench will be more than just a memorial. It will be an inspiration. 

"Part of what we're doing here today through the bench and the gathering of people is just to restore hope so they can live forward, instead of dwelling on the past," Fried said. "Look forward to the good things in life."

Authorities say in both shootings the suspects had ties to gangs, but that the victims they killed did not and were just innocent bystanders.

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