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Thursday, 26 March 2009

Upsurge in gun violence that may be the result of Sureno gangs trying to target rival Norteno gang members.

Three gang-related shootings in less than a week have left a Hollister man dead and two others hospitalized.Police said Wednesday they have no information indicating the shootings will continue, but they also have no reason to believe the violence will stop."The only commonality is that in all three occasions, the suspects perceived the victims to be opposing gang members," said Lt. Darren Thompson, who pointed out that the victims were not necessarily gang members. "We're bringing in people in uniforms to provide a little additional presence in the street."The additional patrols started midday Wednesday and will continue through the end of the week. Also, detectives are being brought in on overtime to follow up on leads in the three shootings. No suspects have been identified."Our best hope is going to be tracking down some of these leads that we started yesterday that we didn't have time to track down," Thompson said.Detectives think the aggressors may be Surenos, who claim blue, because the victim in Tuesday's shooting was wearing red shoes, Thompson said. Nortenos, the rival gang, claim red.Watsonville has about 560 documented active gang members, about 70 percent of whom are Nortenos, according to patrol supervisor Eric Taylor, who was the department's gang investigator until recently. There are seven or eight Norteno and two Sureno gangs that operate in the city, he said.The most-recent shooting happened in a residential neighborhood off Airport Boulevard on Tuesday afternoon. Two men in a sedan pulled alongside an 18-year-old Watsonville man walking down the street, one got out of the car and asked the teen what gang he claimed. Then the man fired four or five shots, hitting the teen several times in the torso, police reported.Police said the teen suffered life-threatening injuries and underwent surgery at the out-of-county trauma center he was flown to Tuesday afternoon. By Wednesday, the young man's condition had improved.
"The victim's status is positive," Thompson said. "He's been listed as critical but stable and we're hoping that he continues to recover."The manner in which the gunmen approached the teen Tuesday was similar to the how the fatal shooting on a park basketball court occurred Saturday afternoon.In that shooting, which killed Angel Gabriel Escobedo, 19 of Hollister, two men approached Escobedo and his friends at a hoops court on Green Meadow Drive and asked what gang they were in, police said. Escobedo's friends ran, but he was shot several times and died at the scene.
The third incident of gun violence happened around 2 a.m. Saturday when a 25-year-old Salinas man was shot in the leg in front of La Esperanza Market on Main Street.


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