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'It's tough to lose a child': Seattle's South Park neighborhood grapples with violence

Seattle Police arrested a 27-year-old suspected of killing 16-year-old Dallas Esparza in February.

In Seattle's South Park neighborhood, some will tell you they have learned a lot of hard lessons about youth violence.

Six months ago, the community mourned the shooting death of 16-year-old Dallas Esparza. Back then, neighbors filled the streets to march for peace.

Today, the violence is still a real concern. A coffee shop that opened last month is taking a new approach.

"It's a mild act of resistance. It's why we named our coffee shop Resistencia," said founding owner Cote` Soerens.

Several community members are now involved in owning and operating the coffee shop. They say they resist the violence, the drugs, and the crime that have been burdens on the South Park neighborhood. Soerens remembers what motivated her in the first place.

"Back in 2015, there was a woman who was killed in an alley here in the neighborhood. In 2016, a year later, we found out the killers had been two young men who grew up here in South Park. It really hit me to the core to think what are we doing with our youth," said Soerens.

She wanted to create a safe space for the community, but before she could open the doors of the new business, there was another tragedy.

"It was crushing. It was crushing to see one of our children be killed," said Soerens.

Esparza was shot and killed in February near South Trenton Street and 14th Avenue South.

armen Martinez works with South Park youth at the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps.

"It's tough to lose a child. It's difficult," said Martinez.

"Just to shoot somebody in cold blood, it was very bold and it also frightened a lot of our kids because Dallas was a normal kid down here. And if it could happen to him it could happen to anyone else," said Martinez.

Monday, Seattle Police announced an arrest in the February homicide. A 27-year-old man was booked in the King County Jail for investigation of murder.

Since the shooting, the community has rallied against gang activity.

"Numerous kids have said gang members have rolled up on them and pointed a gun at them, trying to recruit a lot of our Hispanic males. It is a scary time for them," said Martinez.

"We feel responsible for the children around us," said Soerens.

Soerens is counting on the coffee shop to connect neighbors. The plan is to make this Resistencia Coffee a safe haven for South Park's youth.

"When they need help, they know where to find us," said Soerens.

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