The following comes from a January 22 LA Times article by Veronica Rocha:
Assumption Catholic Church in Boyle Heights has long been a place of peace and salvation in its tight-knit community. But the hit-and-run death of a beloved nun and other random violence has left parishioners on edge and questioning how best to safeguard their sanctuary.
The modest brick structure is recognizable to many as the church that sits across the street from one of L.A.’s landmark eateries, Manuel’s Original El Tepeyac Cafe.
But over the last year, a wave of crime and tragedy has left many church members feeling like victims of a streak of epic misfortune.
“Everything is hitting us at 100%,” church secretary Michelle Pacheco said. “There’s just been so many losses. The community is suffering.”
This month, 80-year-old volunteer Martin Acosta was attacked as he walked across the church parking lot carrying a canvas bag containing $4,100 in cash, checks and change — the week’s church donations.
Acosta struggled with the male assailant as other parishioners screamed for help. He was dragged several feet and struck on the head before the man with the bag got into a waiting car and fled. Neither the man who grabbed the bag nor the driver have been arrested.
The robbery was just the latest blow for the small neighborhood church tucked among homes and apartments between Blanchard Street and Evergreen Avenue.
Last month, sister Raquel Diaz, a pillar of the church for more than 30 years, was run down at Winter Street and Evergreen Avenue. The driver struck Diaz late in the afternoon and drove away without stopping to help.
The crime streak started last year when the church’s warehouse was burglarized twice. Later, several people were seen loitering overnight on church grounds, prompting concern among parishioners.
Determined to put a stop to the break-ins, occasional vandalism and trespassing, church deacons installed cameras in the fall. What they saw was devastating, Father Luis Guzman said.
In one instance over the Thanksgiving weekend, video footage showed a mother, father and their children jiggling car doors and burglarizing unlocked vehicles.
“It gives us sadness,” Guzman said. “The people are concerned. They don’t feel safe.”