By Steve Large

STOCKTON (CBS13) — She is a grandmother whose fears for her baby’s safety now bring her to tears.

Maria Leyva’s neighbor was killed in a violent attack last week. She says his murder leaves her looking over her own shoulder.

“It’s so bad, that we never know when it’s these people is coming out and at what time,” he said.

Retired Stockton Police officer Laurits “Pepe” Petersen, 75, died at the hands of a man allegedly armed with a gun and a knife. Photos show the department veteran from his days on duty to his retirement.

Leyva’s grandchild heard the gunshots during the attack from her schoolyard.

Stockton Police spokesman Joe Silva says Petersen’s murder has left his department in mourning.

“We still don’t know a true motive on why the initial stabbing took place,” he said.

Petersen is Stockton newest murder case. Silva cites crime statistics in Stockton that show violent crime increased slightly last year, but total crime is at 15-year low.

“That’s a positive that we saw, but just like any crime stats looking at 2015, we still know that we have a lot of work to do,” he said.

The city recorded the same number of murders in 2015 as the year before. Violent crime increased 3.4 percent while property crime decreased 0.9 percent.

The Stockton Police Department is hiring—it has 393 officers on staff, but 50 positions that need to be filled. The chief has said recently that retention is also an issue hitting the department’s ranks.

“That’s why we’re doing a very strenuous recruiting effort right now,” Silva said.


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