Suzzane's neighbor says to her later, "You should have heard them saying, 'Aw, they're nothing but a bunch of cholos, anyway.'"
Here is how secure the crime scene was: As the commotion settles and the questioning begins, Suzzane Rivera notices someone she doesn't recognize standing behind her kitchen counter, laughing amid the grief and shock, eating the chicken wings she'd set out for her guests. "I guess he had come in with the police," she says. "I looked at him and I said, 'Who are you?', because he didn't fit in. And he came over here and got some dip, and he was laughing. He said, 'I'm Martn.' I go, 'I don't know you. Who are you?' He goes, 'I was here, at the party.' I said, 'There was no party here.' He said, 'Bobby sent me. To watch you.'"
She finally figures he's from the other party, and she tells an officer, who says to her, he was here with you guys. And she says to him, no, he wasn't. Why does he have to stay here? He's from next door. "But they sat him down and made him very comfortable," she says. Martn Galas, whom police had picked up hopping nearby backyard fences, was finally taken in for questioning; he told police his cousin had driven him to a house party, and that when he heard shots go off down the street, he just took off running, not knowing who was involved. Eventually, police match his prints with those on a beer cup found in Cristal Grende's yard.
When Detective Mills arrives at 3:20 a.m., it all continues--which of you fired the shotgun? and so on. Nobody had. Finally, Tommy's friends realize that no one is going to go looking for anyone outside of the house anytime soon. And they can't, for the life of them, figure out why.
Suzzane Rivera: "Detective Mills was saying, is this a gang hangout? I said, no. I work with gang members. We get together. Some of the kids. I write pamphlets, you know . . . and when I do gang seminars, I use their work. And I said, they don't sit here and get drunk. And he said, well, what types of people hang out here? And I told him; I named a couple of the gangs. And he was like, he was writing them. And that's the first time I seen him really show any interest. He was like: 'Oh.' And, you know: 'Who else?' And he got the other officer--`Oh, yeah, these gangs hang out here.' He didn't listen to what I was saying.
"They come in here, and all of a sudden, they see color. Oh--well, black bandanna, blue bandanna. You know, brown skin. We don't see that. I don't understand--are they conditioned to do that? We were really angry. Because we weren't expecting that. We weren't heard. We weren't listened to. We were taken for granted. I told the officers: Look, I work with kids--what do you mean, what gang am I from? Josie was dressed in jeans and--just like Betty, jeans and a blouse. And she goes, excuse me, officer, but could you tell me if I'm wearing the wrong color or something? I don't understand--how dare you insinuate I'm from a gang. And she's a Head Start teacher. She couldn't believe it. She said she's heard about cases like this, but she never would have believed it."
People say the Wedgewood neighborhood was fairly quiet until a few years ago, when the elderly folks and young families with little kids started moving away. The people that took their place tended to be a little more rowdy, loud music at night, thumping car stereos and so on. John Loredo, a friend of Tommy's who lives in the area and has been trying to elicit a response from the police department, figures just about every other house has guns for protection.
"It's very common," says Loredo, who, like George Diaz Jr., is a former president of MEChA at Phoenix College and spent some time as a Phoenix City Council intern. "It's pretty obvious on the Fourth of July or New Year's Eve. It sounds like a war movie--machine guns, shotguns, pistols."
But this little stretch of street was particularly quiet, some say, until the people down the road and on the corner and across the street moved in, and now it gets to be 3 in the morning and the music is blaring, and you just have to complain to somebody.