East Palo Alto violence claims latest victim

July 13, 2011 7:38:26 PM PDT
A 19-year-old Menlo Park woman shot overnight in East Palo Alto has died. Katherine Fisher was rushed to the hospital Tuesday night with gunshot wounds to her head and leg. It's the latest in a string of shootings police say could be gang related and it comes on the very day that a teenager appeared in court -- charged as an adult with the murder of a baby boy.

Leaving court without a wheelchair for the first time, Ivonne Garcia Lopez had little to say after seeing Fabian Zargoza formally charged with killing her infant son.

Lopez says she'll have more to say when she's fully recovered from the shooting last month that wounded her and her husband and claimed three-month-old baby Izack's life.

Police say they believe Zargoza mistook the family for rival Sureno gang members. But at the courthouse, his lawyer said he has no gang connections and he pleaded not guilty -- though he admits he was at the scene.

"He denied firing any weapon that day," defense attorney Peter Goldscheider said. To my knowledge he's not [a gang member] and I've not seen the allegations about that either."

Though the shooting spurred East Palo Alto police to convene a summit on gang violence, the latest shooting of a 19-year-old woman who was waiting in her car at 2 a.m. could also have gang ties.

"Investigators are unable to determine whether this shooting is gang related although it is a definitely possible," East Palo Alto Police Capt. Jeff Liu said.

Neighbors near the spot where the shooting happened say they're convinced it was gang related. In fact, a couple of them said they did not want to go on camera for fear of retaliation. But off camera, they told ABC7 there are multiple drug houses on the block and that the police know exactly where they are, but don't do anything about it.

Police assure neighbors they're working to stop the violence. And though they can't talk about the specifics, they're pleased with the results.

"Although it appears there's been a recent spike in violence, overall crime has been down in East Palo Alto, so the efforts do have some effect," Liu said.

In the latest homicide, police are looking for two men dressed in dark clothing that approached the victim's car on foot and opened fire with handguns. She was in the car with two men who were not hurt, and police say they're not sure who the intended target was. At this point, they have no leads and no suspects.