Marie Ibanez walks through her neighborhood in Bellevue Ranch in southwest Santa Rosa, pointing at various households where she says she knows residents are armed with guns.Unfortunately, because Sonoma County is so intent on being so liberal and multicultural, they have problems like this:
The two-story homes, not more than a decade old with neatly trimmed lawns, have all the appearances of a classic suburban scene, not a modern-day danger zone where neighbors talk of their fears and how they sleep with shotguns next to their beds.
Ibanez and her husband bought a shotgun in March after repeated incidents of vandalism and seeing more crime and gang activity in the area.
The latest incident occurred Thursday night, when someone wielding a baseball bat busted out the windows of five cars in front of four households. Video from surveillance cameras that the Ibanez family installed a year ago in front of their home on Antelope Lane does not show the crime, but does show three people, two wearing hooded sweat shirts and another wearing a beanie, casually walking down the sidewalk with a bat at about 7:30 p.m.
Getting a gun was no easy choice for the couple. They have three kids between the ages of 3 and 11.
"It was a difficult decision to make because we have kids. It's the last thing you want in your home," said Marie Ibanez's husband, Tim.
It also seems like the last thing that would happen in this maze of short streets and cul-de-sacs in the heart of Bellevue Ranch, a 500-home subdivision built in the late 1990s that drew many families moving into their first homes, and that is now dotted with for sale signs, reflecting the housing downturn.
Santa Rosa police Lt. Hank Schreeder, who is assigned to the area, said Saturday the fear and concern arise from issues of personal animosity as well as broader community conflicts, and he cautioned against homeowners taking up arms.
Despite such assurances, some homeowners say they are acting in self-defense.
Laurie Pachorek, who lives around the corner from the Ibanez family, said she and her husband purchased a gun because they fear crime could soon escalate into home invasions.
The Pachoreks have three children, with the most recent addition coming 4½ months ago.
"At night, my husband takes the firearm out and puts it next to the bed in case somebody breaks in," said Pachorek, adding that both she and her father-in-law have had their cars broken into.
Neighbors say gang activity in the area is on the rise, and some have seen all-out brawls in front of their homes. They say they've practically ceded Bellevue Ranch Park to young thugs who regularly drink alcohol there and harass passers-by.Oh, and here's one of those terribly complex to describe relationships that, in some language, I'm sure, has a single word:
"Yesterday, I saw some kids in broad daylight passing what looked like a joint around," said Sharon Cisneros, a real estate broker who moved to Santa Rosa from San Diego a couple of years ago.
Cisneros' car was the last of the five vehicles that had their windows broken Thursday.
"I moved here two years ago and was basically floored at the level of gang activity," she said. "I thought that I was moving to a safer, more rural area. When I came up here, I was very surprised."
Marie Ibanez said the incidents were likely retaliation for a restraining order her family obtained against the ex-husband of her husband's stepsister, a man with a criminal history who died earlier this year.Quick! Draw a diagram of that relationship!