6 gang-related homicides in 7 days

January 16, 2009 1:02:08 PM PST
Salinas police today are investigating the sixth gang-related fatal shooting carried out in the city in seven days.

Thursday's killing took place around 8:45 p.m. during a family gathering at a home in the 700 block of Las Casitas Drive, police said.

A man dressed in dark clothing walked into the home's front yard, pulled out a handgun and started firing, according to police.

Salinas resident Gabriel Amezcua, 30, suffered several gunshot wounds and died at a nearby hospital, police said.

A 29-year-old woman suffered gunshot wounds to her legs and was transported to a nearby hospital, where she is expected to recover.

The suspected shooter ran south on Ranchero Drive after firing the gun and he has not been located.

The most recent killing and the other five carried out since early in the morning on Jan. 9 are all being investigated as gang-related homicides. Several attempted homicides have also been reported.

Police have worked to increase officer concentration on the streets, but both law enforcement and city officials are saying the rivalry between the Nortenos and Surenos gangs cannot be solved by the Police Department alone.

"I think unfortunately this pattern of violence, a gang culture, just has simply taken root in our community, and it's gone on for generations, and I think there's an element within our community that think it's an acceptable lifestyle," Mayor Dennis Donohue said Tuesday, when he and police Chief Daniel Ortega held a news conference about the rash of violence.

While police are not confirming whether the shootings are retaliatory strikes from the rival gangs, police Sgt. Chris Lane said there have been victims on each side.

No suspects have been arrested in connection with the killings, police said.

Anyone with information on any of the shootings is asked to contact investigations at (831) 758-7226 or the crime tip line at (831) 775-4222.