Cops ask residents to help stop E. Palo Alto violence

July 25, 2011 8:18:33 PM PDT
East Palo Alto has had six murders this year. After reducing the homicide rate to four in all of last year, the spike in gang violence has once again put the community on edge. The police chief is asking for the public's help in identifying the gang members he believes are behind the latest wave of violence.

"It puts risk to all of us just walking around, driving around and employed in this community," East Palo Alto resident Tiffany Hautau said.

Police Chief Ron Davis held a news conference Monday, saying three East Palo Alto gang members are likely responsible for a rampage of violence that spans two states. The crime spree includes three murders; two in East Palo Alto and one in Grand Junction, Colorado, along with two armed robberies and one burglary.

Christian Fuentes, 20, is in custody on a parole violation. Police want the public's help in finding 19-year-old Jamie Cadenas and 24-year-old Fidel Silva.

"As long as they are out there, clearly we can see the kind of violence and damage they can do in a short period of time and we don't know if they are in East Palo Alto between here and Colorado," Davis said.

Many say the murder of 3-month-old Izack Lopez last month, whose family was mistakenly targeted in a gang shooting, broke a code of silence on the streets.

"Nobody wants to be a snitch but if somebody shot my baby and I saw it, I'm telling," one East Palo Alto resident said.

Mayor Carlos Romero says people are also coming forward because their tips are resulting in arrests.

"If you give them information, that information will be acted upon quickly and there will be some sort of action to their coming in and actually providing information," Romero said.

Resident William Green says families just want to live in peace and are now willing to work with police to make that happen.

"They just want to be able to walk around and enjoy life without fear so I think they're participating to better their community," Green said.

Davis says the uptick in violence has prompted him to increase patrols for at least the next month, even canceling some officers' days off.