A vigil was held Saturday evening for the two young boys, 7- and 9-year-old brothers, killed in a crash in Boyle Heights involving a Los Angeles County Sheriff's patrol vehicle just two days earlier.
Flowers and candles were gathered near the site of the crash, while a local priest performed a prayer service as loved ones and other members of the L.A. neighborhood came to mourn the two young lives lost. As of Saturday night, a GoFundMe page for the boys' family has raised over $5,000 of a $30,000 goal.
The memorial came as members of the community have questioned the actions of a female sheriff's deputy who was behind the wheel of the patrol vehicle that struck and killed two young boys and critically injured their mother, while also injuring others in immediately following collisions.
At the time of the crash, a witness told KTLA the patrol vehicle failed to turn on its sirens and flashing lights before it slammed into a group of pedestrians. It was responding to a call about shots fired nearby, officials said.
The following day, on Friday, L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said the female officer who was driving was actually in job training at the time.
Surveillance footage of the sheriff's vehicle just before the crash shows it with its lights flashing, but since the video has no sound, it's unclear whether the sirens are turned on. Still, at least one witness has claimed those lights were turned on at the last minute, not giving adequate warning to those walking around.
As people came to grieve Jose and Marco Hernandez, some spoke out about sheriff's officials appearing to be at fault.
"I'm not here to bash the police. I respect the police," said Julie Valle, who witnessed the crash. "I know their job is difficult and we all have to make decisions."
"Unfortunately, that moment, that day — they made the wrong decision," she said.
Valle not only witnessed the crash, but tended to the victims in the moments immediately after, she told the Los Angeles Times. She said the sheriff's vehicle had no sirens and no lights on, and when it hit the Hernandez brothers and their mother, she tried helping the woman before seeing the heavily wounded boys.
She has been thinking about the family since that night, she told the Times.
Meanwhile, a local activist named Carlos Montes said the predominantly low-income community deserves "respect" from the law enforcement officers patrolling its streets.
" [There is] a lot of trauma, a lot of ... sadness, but also a lot of anger from the community," Montes said.
"They should be charged," he said of the deputies involved. "We’re a poor community. We're an immigrant community. But we want respect."
Authorities are still investigating the cause and circumstances surrounding the deadly crash.