Gang might have shot aunt and niece in East Palo Alto

By Joshua Melvin

DAILY News staff writer

Posted: 12/06/2008 12:07:05 AM PST

An East Palo Alto street gang might have been involved in the Thursday shooting of a 23-year-old woman and her 6-year-old niece, police said.

At about 7:11 p.m. the woman and her niece were grazed by bullets while waiting inside a car at the intersection of Bell Street and University Avenue for a red light to turn green, East Palo Alto police reported Friday. The shooter, who was on foot, fired five shots into the front and rear doors of the vehicle’s driver side and fled, said Detective Angel Chavez.

The woman’s 5-month-old son and 5-year-old daughter were also in the vehicle, but unharmed in the attack. The woman’s back was grazed by two bullets and her niece’s toe was nicked by another shot. Both the woman and child have since been released from the hospital.

“It’s definitely a blessing that their injuries were not worse,” Chavez said. “They are very lucky.”

According to the victim, the shooter wore a beige and green military-style jacket with a hood. The jacket’s description is consistent with the type of clothing worn by the East Palo Alto street gang Taliban, said Chavez, adding that the gang’s members are known to attack without provocation.

Chavez said the victim and her family have no known gang affiliations. The woman told police she didn’t know of anyone who would want to hurt her.

In the area surrounding Bell Street and University Avenue, where the attack occurred, drug dealing and prostitution have been common activities in the past, Chavez said. But the area had been relatively quiet until Thursday’s shooting, he added.

The victim was passing through while taking her niece home. Just before the shooting started, the woman stopped for gas at a service station near the intersection.

“To shoot into a car where there are children in the back seat is pretty horrible,” Chavez said. “These guys don’t care who they shoot.”

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Detective Angel Sanchez at 650-853-3144 or the police department’s anonymous tip line at 650-851-8477.

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