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3 suspects identified in gang-related shootings

June 22, 2010 4:25:07 PM PDT
Three suspects arrested last week in connection with three gang-related shootings earlier this month in San Pablo have been released from custody pending further investigation, Detective Sgt. Dave Lewellyn said today.

The first shooting happened on June 4 at about 6:20 p.m. in the 1400 block of Emeric Ave. The two victims were walking from a liquor store toward a home on Emeric when they saw a dark four-door Honda parked on the corner, Lewellyn said.

The car's occupants stared at them and some words were exchanged.

The driver of the car then circled around the block and, as the victims reached their home, the car returned and someone inside shot at them, striking the house, Lewellyn said.

The second shooting happened shortly after midnight on June 5 near College Lane and Del Camino Drive.

Two victims were walking from a 7-Eleven store near Broadway and San Pablo avenues when they noticed a dark, four-door Honda driving slowly through the parking lot, Lewellyn said.

When the victims reached College Lane and Del Camino Drive, the car approached them and two people inside the car pointed handguns at them.

The victims heard the suspects fire several shots, but no one was hit.

The third shooting happened shortly before midnight on June 5 in the 2300 block of 21st Street.

In that shooting, a group of young teens was hanging out at an apartment complex when a second group approached them.

Someone in the suspects' group asked the victims if they belonged to a rival gang. They said they did not, Lewellyn said.

When one of the suspects took out a gun, one of the victims hit his arm and the gun fell to the ground. A second suspect then took out another gun and fired into the crowd, striking a 17-year-old in the arm, Lewellyn said. The boy is expected to recover.

Police found shell casings at all three crime scenes and, on June 7, a patrol officer spotted a car matching the description of the Honda described in the first two shootings.

The officer stopped the car for a vehicle code violation and found a shell casing inside that appeared to be from the same caliber gun investigators found at all three crime scenes, Lewellyn said.

The county crime lab was able to determine that the casing found in the car had been fired by the same gun as the casings found at the crime scenes, Lewellyn said.

Police obtained warrants and on Thursday arrested 23-year-old Pinole resident Saul Leon, 25-year-old San Pablo resident Fernando Navarro and a 17-year-old boy from San Pablo, Lewellyn said.

The two adults, however, were released from custody Monday night and the case was returned to San Pablo police for further investigation.

Lewellyn said he was still waiting for confirmation this afternoon that the juvenile had been released as well.

Investigators believe the three suspects are members of the Norteno street gang, but as far as they have been able to determine, none of the victims were associated with any rival gang. It also does not appear that the victims provoked the suspects in any way, Lewellyn said.

He said that so far it appears that the only motive for the shootings was that the suspects were attempting to prove themselves within the gang.

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