Today, Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar, Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine), Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton), and Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) announced legislation to create sentencing enhancements for violent crimes targeting schools and places of worship.
Senate Bill 699 creates two sentence enhancements for specified felonies attempted or committed at schools or houses of worship.
The bill would establish the Alycia “LaLa” Reynaga Act, named for the 15 year-old student who was recently killed by an intruder on campus at Stagg High School in Stockton. The bill also comes soon after the mass shooting at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods that killed one person and wounded five others.
In a press conference on April 20, 2022, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar called upon our local representatives to implement laws that increase penalties for crimes committed on school campuses. Tragically, the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods was then victimized by a mass shooter just weeks later. It became clear that the places we hold sacred- like schools and houses of worship- should be safe from violence.
“I commend Senator Talamantes Eggman for her swift response to my Office’s call to action,” said San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar. “Heinous acts of violence on school campuses and places of worship deserve additional consequences. SB 699 is one way California can lead the nation in reform, protecting those seeking an education and those who wish to participate in religious gatherings.”
“Schools and houses of worship are foundational building blocks of our communities and should be safe spaces for all those who use their services,” said Senator Eggman. No one should ever be deterred from receiving an education or engaging in spiritual reflection for fear their faith or study could be disrupted by violence. I am extremely grateful for the support of District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar in helping craft this important legislation.”
“Our places of learning and religious worship have too often been targets of violence in recent years, including the recent church shooting in Laguna Woods, which I represent,” said Senator Min. “Enough is enough. Those who seek to terrorize our most sacred places must be held accountable, and our current criminal penalties simply do not reflect the importance of keeping our schools and houses of worship safe. I’m proud to be a coauthor of SB 699.”
“Violence towards children, students, and worshipers is nothing short of heinous. As leaders, we must act swiftly and courageously to protect our communities and correct these injustices,” said Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton). “I am committed to strengthening our public safety laws. We owe this to ‘LaLa’ and others affected by violence in order to ensure justice is served and to keep us safe.”
“On May 15, a shooter killed a hero and injured 5 innocent lives at a church in Laguna Woods, and just one week later, 21 children were killed in an elementary school in Texas,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine) and co-author of SB 699. “Places of worship and schools should be the last places where people fear for their lives, and this bill would bring accountability and justice to perpetrators who commit felonies at what are supposed to be safe havens.”