Three large candles sat on the communion table at the front of Holy Cross Catholic Church on Sunday, July 22-the day of Lorenzo Valentin Carachure’s funeral in Santa Barbara. Each candle signified a different step in the process of healing for those hurt by the violent death of Carachure on July 16. The first candle symbolized the feelings of grief and vengeance many were undoubtedly feeling as a result of the murder, and the second represented a necessary move toward solidarity and community, while the third signified making a commitment to “do what we can to keep this from happening again,” said the pastor, Father Ludo DeClippel.
The public must wait to see if the words resonate throughout the community-perhaps most importantly so with a large group of young men dressed almost uniformly in baggy white T-shirts and sitting en masse in the back of the church during the funeral. Many in the group-and others in the crowd of more than 200 people-wore shirts with Carachure’s picture and “In Loving Memory” written above it. Martin Carachure, Lorenzo’s brother, was emotional throughout the service, with family members and friends offering their support.
Lorenzo Carachure, 16, was walking to his home on San Pascual Street near Ortega Street with his cousin and their friend after finishing a day’s work at his dishwashing job on July 16. According to police, a larger group approached the three, ultimately stabbing them. The first officers to respond gave Lorenzo emergency first aid until paramedics arrived. Although all three victims were taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, Lorenzo didn’t make it. His cousin, Noe, 19, was stabbed once in the stomach and once in the thigh, while their acquaintance-a 17-year-old who lived with Noe Carachure and his family two doors down from Lorenzo-was stabbed once on the arm near his elbow, according to family members. None of the three was armed at the time of the attack.
Santa Barbara police have characterized the three as “active gang members or gang associates,” although it hasn’t been made clear who is who. When asked whether Lorenzo Carachure had a criminal background, police spokesperson Lt. Paul McCaffrey, who is withholding details of the ongoing investigation, said, “I don’t know that he did specifically.” Two teens identifying themselves as gang members who were hanging out on San Pascual Street this week said Carachure wasn’t a gang member. By their accounts and those of other people, he was a respectful teenager. According to his cousin Lupe, Noe’s sister, he was kind and wouldn’t generally speak ill of other people. He was also a fan of the movie Finding Nemo and was given the nickname “Nemo” by his family.
Carachure moved to Santa Barbara two years ago from Mexico, where his mother and father still live, according to Lupe. After the funeral Sunday, his body was flown by cargo plane to Mexico and was expected to arrive Monday night in the pueblo of Villa de Nicol¡s, in the state of Guerrero.
The day after the funeral, DeClippel recalled how not even three months ago, Holy Cross had been filled for an interfaith service to mourn the loss of another teenager, 15-year-old Luis Angel Linares, who was stabbed to death during a large gang brawl in the heart of Santa Barbara’s downtown. “There is the same anger in me there was just months ago,” DeClippel said. And some surely share those feelings. But overall, there has been neither the community uproar nor town hall forums as of yet.
Meanwhile, the stabbings continue. Saturday afternoon, three teenagers-gang members or associates, according to McCaffrey of the Santa Barbara Police-were walking to Circuit City on upper State Street after having lunch at a nearby Jack in the Box when they were confronted by another group. The three, one of whom worked at Circuit City, were chased to the door of the store. There, a 16-year-old victim was stabbed once. Police weren’t able to track down the suspects, but arrested the three victims on probation violations.
Another gang-related stabbing occurred Friday night in Carpinteria when a gang member, 15, was stabbed in the chest. Two men from Moorpark were arrested shortly after the stabbing, which authorities said was unrelated to recent gang activity in Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara police, in light of the recent killing, have ramped up patrols, McCaffrey said. The increased activity will continue through next week’s Fiesta, when local police are joined by nearly all law enforcement agencies in the region. Last year’s Fiesta was marked by little gang activity, he said, but with two recent gang killings, police are on high alert. “There’s definitely tension in the air, no doubt,” McCaffrey said.