Tuesday, November 08, 2005 - 12:00 AM |
Youth hurt in gang-related fight in Orem
Heidi Toth DAILY HERALD
A young man suffered severe head injuries after being beaten with baseball bats and crowbars in a gang-related fight this weekend. The assault was a rarity in a county where gangs are usually associated with nothing more serious than graffiti.
Orem police arrested a teenage boy Saturday night and charged him with aggravated assault and felony criminal mischief in connection with an assault at an Orem restaurant early Saturday morning. According to Orem police, two groups of people at Beto's in Provo "had words with one another" before one group left the restaurant and went to Beto's in Orem, followed by the second group, which was identified as the Hispanic gang Provo Vatos Locos.
The gang members then got bats and crowbars, breaking windows on two cars and assaulting two people, sending one to the hospital with head wounds that required stitches. All of the parties left before police arrived about 2:30 a.m. Saturday.
Lt. Doug Edwards, public information officer for the Orem Department of Public Safety, said there were about 20 individuals involved in the fight and officers still are looking for suspects.
"We're looking primarily at juveniles," he said. "Naturally we believe we've got some victims, regardless of what may or may not have been said."
He did not know what the fight was about, although according to the report the first group included the ex-girlfriend of a member of the second group. He is not sure if that was a factor.
This type of crime involving gangs is not common in Provo or Orem, spokesmen for both departments said. Edwards said there are gangs in Orem, but they aren't the cause of much violence. Provo has a similar problem.
"If you're talking active graffitiing, they're very active," Provo Police Capt. Rick Healey said.
A number of Provo police officers have been assigned to work the graffiti cases, which has resulted in information regarding other gang activity.
"They do exist," he said. "They do cause some problems, but most people are really kind of unaware that they're around."
The gangs are mostly composed of teenagers; Healey said the groups tend to fall apart as the members move out of their early 20s. That makes gang activity and prevention a primary issue for the Provo School District.
"Is it an overwhelming problem? No," district spokesman Greg Hudnall said. "Is it something we're concerned about? Yes."
The schools deals with minor gang issues, such as graffiti, threats or intimidation and minor recruitment weekly, Hudnall said, but rarely any major gang-related problems. The biggest issue are the occasional fights.
"Overall, we haven't seen the gang-related issues like you may see in other communities across the state," Hudnall said.
The six school resource officers in the district work closely with the Utah County Gang Task Force to monitor gang activity and train teachers and administrators to deal with and prevent gang-related problems, he said.