Fatal shooting was gang-related; teen targeted, Salinas police say

DANIEL LOPEZ (Herald Staff Writer)
06/22/2010
A 15-year-old boy who was shot and killed outside a Salinas market has been identified by police as Jorge Alberto Mendez Barrera.

Police said that about 7p.m. Sunday, Mendez went to the Fairway Market at 323 Williams Road with friends. He was returning to their vehicle when a man with a gun approached and shot him several times.

“We don’t have any reasons as to why at this time,” Salinas Police spokesman Lalo Villegas said Monday.

Police have determined the shooting was gang-related, and it appears Mendez was singled out and targeted by the shooter.

“We know that he associated with gangs,” Villegas said.

After he was shot, Mendez was taken to a Salinas hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

He was a student at Salinas Community School, Villegas said.

The gunman is described as being about 20 years old, and police said he fled in a red pickup that was stopped nearby. The truck was described by witnesses as a 1990s or early 2000s full-sized model.

No arrests have been made, Villegas said.

There are surveillance cameras at businesses in the area around the market, and investigators are trying to determine if any recorded the shooting or suspects, he said.

Officers also believe there are witnesses to the shooting who have not come forward with information to police.

“Williams Road is a huge thoroughfare,” Villegas said. “We do know that there were several other people out there.”

The homicide comes as the police department prepares to shuffle officers away from its gang squad.

Chief Louis Fetherolf has said that as of July 1, the Violence Suppression Unit — as it’s known — will be cut in half, with 10 officers moving to cover patrol duties after budget cuts forced elimination of 19 unfilled officer positions.

“It’s going to affect us,” Villegas said.

The gang officers can, at times, provide investigators with information in homicides and other crimes that can lead to potential suspects, he said.

“The intelligence gathering that they do is very critical,” he said.

To try to keep a gang officer presence in the city seven days a week, the VSU officers will coordinate their schedules with the county’s Gang Task Force, Villegas said.

So far this year, Salinas has seen far fewer homicides than last year’s record 29.

Last year, there were 14 homicides by the end of June.

The slaying of Mendez on Sunday is the third of 2010.

Police have said it is too soon to tell if new strategies, such as the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace, April’s Operation Knockout arrests or Ceasefire, an anti-gang program that has had success in other cities, are influencing the drop.

“Something is going right for us, and just because we have a low number of shootings or homicides, doesn’t mean that the violence isn’t there and it doesn’t mean that we should relax and not keep the pressure on these gangsters,” Villegas said. “We always have to change our strategy on the way we combat violence.”

Typically, Salinas has seen a spike in shootings during the summer, when more young gang members and teenagers are out of school.

“I hope that’s not going to be the case,” Villegas said. “They have a warped sense of what respect is, and all it takes is somebody looking at somebody else the wrong way and we have a shooting. The fact that these young kids are out and about and the likelihood of confrontations occurring is high.”

On Friday, a 24-year-old man was shot in the upper body after arguing with another man about 10 p.m. outside the apartment complex at 791 Garner Ave.

Police said the assailant approached the victim after getting out of a vehicle parked a short distance away. An argument started, and the man was shot.

The suspect fled in the vehicle, and police said they have made no arrests.

The victim remained in a San Francisco Bay Area hospital Monday.

Villegas said it was too soon in the investigation to know if the attack and Sunday’s slaying are related.

Posted by on Jun 22 2010. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

5 Comments for “Fatal shooting was gang-related; teen targeted, Salinas police say”

  1. I didn’t really like it that much.

  2. armin

    Has it been established what was the involvement of these victims? They said that the 15 year old boy has associated with the gang.

  3. […] Fatal shooting was gang-related; teen targeted, Salinas police say DANIEL LOPEZ (Herald Staff Writer) 06/22/2010 A 15-year-old boy who… […]

  4. Blood

    all i cAn RememBer in the pARk tHey Brought tHE RAdIO dJs and a hoolA hoOp… AnD pASSed cD siNGles… tHE aRcaDe sHoUlD Be BroughT BAck…

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