Death shrines dot this poor, San Joaquin Valley, California farm town. These shrines commemorate murdered gang members, innocent civilians, victims of domestic violence, and the massive carnage which occurs on the dangerous roads around town.
For years, many stood along Lassen Avenue, the main street through town, and on Myrtle Avenue, in the El Porvenir Estates, and beside chain link fences separating the town from surrounding fields. Many have disappeared. No one seems to know why. Town leaders are often accused of removing them as an eyesore. But they stand as monuments to a town where no one participates in government and where witnesses refuse to testify out of fear of retribution.
Drive by shootings meant to intimidate are common. Wounded citizens like "Big Worm" - shot a dozen times and paralyzed -- do not make it into the pages of the Fresno Bee. The latest shooting to be memorialized left 14 year-old Diego Perez dead at the hand of a 13-year-old classmate.