Police: Gang war under way in city

Eight gang-related shootings since April

cpride@losbanosenterprise.comMay 31, 2011 

Authorities are acknowledging a gang war is taking place after three gang-related shootings occurred during the Memorial Day weekend.

Since April Los Banos has experienced 10 shootings, eight have been officially labeled gang-related. “There’s definitely a rivalry going on between Norteños and Sureños. I think it’s safe to say they are fighting more than they have ever been,” Cmdr. Ray Reyna Jr. said. “You can call it a gang war.”

The first of the three weekend shootings occurred Friday at 7:11 p.m.

Police responded to the corner of Fourth and G streets and located an 18-year-old male suffering from two gunshot wounds. He was airlifted to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto where he is listed in critical condition.

Officers said the suspect approached the victim on foot and shot him as he attempted to run from the area. The suspect was described as a light-skinned male who was wearing dark clothing and was last seen running north on Third Street.

Also Friday, at 11:30 p.m. officers found a 29-year-old man who was shot in his left shoulder in front of a residence on the 100 block of Lime Street. The victim was airlifted to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto and is listed in stable condition.

Police said the suspect drove to the area in a light colored vehicle, which fled west on Lime Street after the shooting. Police have not released a description of the suspect.

The third gang-related shooting occurred Sunday at 10:38 p.m. near Delaware Avenue and West J Street. Police said they located a 17-year-old male who was shot in the elbow.

The victim reportedly told authorities he was walking down the street when the incident occurred. He could not provide a description of the suspect, police said. The victim was airlifted to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto. He is currently in stable condition.

Authorities said they want the public to know they are dedicating additional resources to quelling the gang violence.

“The department is taking the recent increase in gang violence seriously and we are outraged that these crimes are occurring in our community,” Reyna said. “In response, we are putting more officers on the streets to focus on gang suppression. Many people have asked us what they can do to help, and its simple; we need the public to come forward when they have information or have witnessed a crime. Good witnesses are a vital element in solving these crimes.”

Reyna declined to state whether the police are close to arresting any suspects in the gang shootings. He said the department does not want to tip off the perpetrators.

Anyone with information about the shootings can contact the Los Banos Police Department anonymously by calling 827-7070 ext. 288 or by leaving a tip on the city’s Web site, www.losbanos.org.

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