An Everett father, whose son was killed by an alleged gang member, wants other parents to learn from his loss.
14-year-old David Sandoval died a year ago Thursday after he was shot by a 13-year old, allegedly over the color of his shoes.
Sanodval’s dad, Marcos Sandoval, is now part of a new effort to educate families about gang violence and teach them ways to talk about it.
“What we need to do is just get closer, talk to them,” Sandoval said, before speaking to a group of parents and kids Thursday evening at Horizon Elementary in Everett.
In the year since his son’s death, Sandoval has spent a lot of time grieving, wondering what more he could've done.
“I wish we could have a book or something to prepare ourselves to be a good parent, but no, there's nothing,” Sandoval said.
He's speaking up, hoping his story will help prevent other parents from suffering the way he has. He tells them to get involved, know their kids’ friends, know where they are, and where they're going.
“We tend to think that just by sending our kids to school, we're done,” Sandoval said.
Everett police also spoke at the gathering, telling parents about a new gang response unit. The department has an officer whose job it is to reach kids early, between ages 10 and 14, and identify young people at risk of getting involved with a gang.
There are new intervention programs in schools, programs designed to teach families how to communicate, and an emphasis on gun safety in Everett. Police have given out nearly 200 free gun locks.
Police say shootings and gang-related offenses are down this year, and they say David Sandoval's death likely helped motivate those changes.
Marcos Sandoval hopes to speak to more young people in the coming months who may not understand the dangers of associating with gangs.
“They deserve a better future, and that's why we're here,” he said.