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On Halloween night a year ago, Deborah Bush, a crime-scene investigator with the Pasadena police, heard the staccato spray of semiautomatic gunfire a few doors from her home in a quiet neighborhood of neatly tended bungalows.

Wasting no time, Bush sprinted down the street, where she found six bodies sprawled, some writhing in pain, others ominously still. Instinctively, as she had been trained to do as a police officer, she searched for signs of life from the nearest victim, barely a teenager, and knew almost at once that he was dead. Moving swiftly to the next body, she again searched in vain for a pulse.And it was only then that she realized that the second bullet-riddled body was her elder son, Stephen, 14.

"I've seen a lot, and Stephen was not the first dead body that I've come across, but anytime you deal with children, it hurts, it hurts a lot," Bush said as she recounted the incident.

The shootings erupted as Stephen and nine other boys returned from a adult-chaperoned Halloween party. The police later concluded that the boys had been attacked in a case of mistaken identity: Gang members from a nearby neighborhood opened fire on the boys, seeking revenge for the shooting two hours earlier of one of their own. In all, three of the boys died, and three were wounded in the second attack.

The facts and fury of what is now known as the Halloween massacre jolted this community of about 125,000, whose collective experience with brazen gang violence had mostly come through newspaper and television accounts of the killing grounds of South-Central Los Angeles.

Until recently, Pasadena, a suburb 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles, was mostly known for the Tournament of Roses parade, the lavish extravaganza televised each New Year's Day.