Grieving dad who lost son to gang violence: 'I could have saved his life'

David Sandoval is seen in a family photo.

EVERETT, Wash. (KOMO)— A grieving father has an urgent plea for the Everett community after the city this week announced several initiatives to quell youth and gang violence.

Marcos Sandoval's 14-year-old son David was killed in October by a 13-year-old over the color of his shoes, according to police. Now Sandoval is urging members of the public to get involved in stopping the uptrend in gang violence, which surged 75 percent from January to November 2017.

In delivering a message about the issue earlier this week, new Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin talked about the death of David Sandoval. And his father is asking parents around Everett to be part of the solution. He doesn't want any more families to live with the regrets he has.

He says he wishes he'd been more engaged when David was alive - and had acted on his concerns.

"When you lose a child, there's nothing. There’s no peace. There's no happiness. Nothing can replace that hole in your heart," he said in an interview with KOMO News.

His last heart-to-heart talk with his son David happened on a park bench at Hibulb Lookout in Everett. Marcos says David told him he had friends who were in a gang, but his son chose not to be part of it.

“In his own words, he was not scared,” Marcos explained. “I was. I was very scared. After we left, I was very worried. I was very scared. And I was willing to move.”

But they didn’t, given the financial strain it would have caused for their family.

Three weeks later, in October, 14-year-old David was shot and killed by a 13-year-old over the color of his shoes - stunning so many.

Sandoval says David was not in a gang, but he was killed anyway.

"That's what bothers me. Because he was not a criminal," Sandoval says.

Now David's story is at the heart of the new directive announced by Franklin this week - to take on youth and gang violence in South Everett.

The city has several new initiatives, including the launch of an gang advisory group made of up citizens. It's just one way they want to engage the community more.

Marcos Sandoval is now part of the movement- and urges other parents to get involved, too.

"This monster is killing our kids, and we cannot let this monster win," he says. "This is what I want from parents - to wake up. To do something. To know where their kids are. What they're going through. We don’t know our kids. We think we know them, but we just don’t.”

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