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Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Three people dead and five wounded by gunfire in renewed Gang violence

violence has returned to the Salinas, leaving three people dead and five wounded by gunfire. Most of the victims in the latest surge of shootings that began Nov. 2 have been younger than 25. The youngest victim, Romeo Gose, 15, was killed after being shot multiple times in the upper body about 9 p.m. Sunday in Northgate Park on the city's northwest side off Cherokee Drive. Gose died at a local hospital a short time later, becoming the city's 23rd slaying victim of 2008. Salinas police Cmdr. Kelly McMillin said Gose was near an outbuilding in the park when two people approached him and opened fire at close range. "We have no reason to believe this had anything to do with gangs," McMillin said. He declined to elaborate. Less than 90 minutes earlier, in what police are investigating as a gang-related shooting, the 22nd slaying of the year was marked. Edgar Hernandez, 19, was fatally shot about 7:50 p.m. Sunday when someone opened fire on him and two 33-year-old men in the driveway of their home on the 1100 block of Pacific Avenue. Hernandez had just returned home from a store and was standing with the men when a car pulled up, McMillin said. "The passenger exited the vehicle, didn't say a word and opened fire," McMillin said the investigation has determined. Hernandez died at the scene. The two men with him were wounded and were taken to a San Jose hospital for treatment. They are expected to recover. McMillin said that though investigators are probing possible gang motives, there is nothing to suggest Hernandez or the men with him are involved in gangs.
Police did not provide a description of suspects or a vehicle in either shooting.
McMillin said there is nothing to suggest the two incidents are connected or are related to the other four shootings in the last nine days. Two 16-year-old boys were wounded by gunfire about 4 p.m. Friday when the driver of a gray or brown Ford Thunderbird shot at them near Florence Place and Fairview Drive. Police have made no arrests. Francisco Cabrera, 23, was shot several times about 11 p.m. Thursday on the 1000 block of North Sanborn Road. Officers who happened to be in the area responded and stopped a Mazda Protege that was speeding away. Driver Luis Placencia, 20, Diego Ramirez, 18, and two male juveniles were arrested. Shots were fired at a house in the 1800 block of Margaret Street about 8 p.m. Nov. 3, striking some vehicles. No one was injured and the shots were apparently fired from a tan 1990s two-door Honda Accord. Jose Alonzo, 22, was fatally shot about 10 p.m. Nov. 2 after he answered a knock at the door of his Lewis Circle home. No arrests have been made and police have not named any suspects. "We don't have any reason to believe anything unique is going on," McMillin said.
But the three recent slayings have pushed Salinas to the cusp of tying the record 24 slaying of 1994. In an effort to try to reduce the level of violence, police launched an initiative Oct. 16 dubbed Operation Impact to target gangs with the help of the California Highway Patrol and Monterey County Sheriff's Office. The agencies agreed to lend their support to patrol the city. In the final weeks of October there were no shootings of any kind reported in Salinas. "Sometimes we go through these periods of calm," McMillin said.
Police, though, have declined to say when officers are actively working Operation Impact. "It is an ongoing operation," Deputy Police Chief Cassie McSorley said Monday.
She said the operation at some point would have to end, but would not elaborate on the current status or say if the assigned officers were working in the last week.
The CHP said that since the operation began Oct. 30, its officers have conducted 330 traffic stops, written 164 citations, impounded 47 vehicles and have arrested 36 people, including 18 for felony violations. A complete report with the details of the operation will be provided when the operation is finalized, McSorley said.
"It may not be until the first of the year," she said, adding that the results will be positive. "We will see that it has had an impact."


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