• Deputies Confront Gun-Toting Gang Members on Fourth of July

    By Ivan Garcia

    Shortly after 11 p.m. on July 4, Monterey County Sheriff deputies responded to a report of five to seven subjects shooting rounds off to the sky at the intersection of Speegle and Haight Street — an area known for gang gatherings. During the time of the call, many fireworks were being lit into the air, but the reporting party made it clear that they believed they heard the sound of gunshots. While officers were en route to the scene of the crime, the reporting party called three more times — the last call stating that the group of suspects had now grown to about 30 people.

    Deputies arrived at the chaotic scene and immediately spotted a suspect holding a semi-automatic handgun. He and the group of gang members fled at the sight of officers, splitting up and running together in groups. Upon seeing the suspects run away, a K9 was deployed and ordered to pursue the fleeing armed suspect. The dog and several officers chased the suspect, who was running with a group of about five individuals. The suspect suddenly flung his firearm in the air while continuing to run with the crowd.

    During the chase, one of the suspects split from the rest of the group. The suspect was fidgeting with an item tucked into his front waistband. The K9 was ordered to chase the suspect as officers feared the armed man would harm officers or the public. The suspect dropped a handgun but was bitten by the dog.

    The suspect captured by the K9 was a 17 year-old male, a known gang member who had previously been booked on firearm charges.

    The suspect who was first spotted with a gun had escaped, and his identity is currently being investigated.

    A third suspect was found hiding under a vehicle. He claimed he was not from the area but he had tattoos of symbols distinct to a clique of Castroville Norteños, according to officers.

    While officers took the captured culprits into custody, a large crowd of an estimated 100 people surrounded the scene, making officers feel anxious in the already intense situation, according to reports. The crowd was believed to consist of unassociated bystanders simply viewing the bright bursts of unsanctioned fireworks in the night sky, but officers feared that some of those in the crowd might be associated with the suspects and as such could obstruct the collection of evidence. At the time, at least one handgun a suspect had dropped had yet to be retrieved. Monterey County Sheriffs state an unknown number of firearms were likely discarded when the group of suspects fled the scene.

    As the crowd continued to interact with officers, some family members of the suspects angrily addressed deputies. Monterey County officers decided to request aid from local agencies. Among the affiliates called in to help were the Marina and Seaside Police Departments and CHP.

    In the end, three handguns were recovered from the scene, two of which had previously been reported as stolen. The suspect who was bitten by the K9 was treated for minor injuries at Natividad Medical Center. The suspect found hiding under the vehicle was booked into County Jail.

    This incident of gang members gathering to blast guns in the sky occurred at a time when Monterey County Sheriffs had already been busier than they have ever been. During the course of the three-day Independence Day weekend the Sheriff’s Office received a total of 864 calls ranging from reports of illegal fireworks and domestic disputes to drunk drivers and gang activity.



    posted to Cedar Street Times on July 6, 2015

    Topics: Front PG News, Police Log


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