Local

Numbers show gang-related shootings on the rise

Sunday, September 05, 2010

In the past week alone there have been two shootings, with four victims in Merced County. Last Monday, two teenagers were hit in Planada outside one of their homes.

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The latest attack happened Saturday afternoon in Dos Palos involving a father and son.

One of the teen victims says he's angry he's become an innocent victim of gang violence. And he's terrified to go back to the place where he was shot.

Justin Gonzalez, 17, spoke to Action News from his hospital bed in Modesto Sunday night. He is still recovering from injuries he suffered in Monday night's gang shooting in Planada.

The shooting left both him and his girlfriend, 17-year-old Monica Garcia, fighting for their lives. "I pushed my girlfriend and she had been shot already and I pushed her so she wouldn't get shot again. And I got shot in the back and I fell and they immediately took off."

The shooting happened while the two talked outside Monica's Planada home. Neither of them have any gang affiliations.

Investigators say a group of gang members was driving around and targeted them simply because Justin was wearing a blue sweatshirt....the color of a rival gang.

"I do not want my kids growing up in a society where they have to be careful what they wear or else they might get shot and killed."

Monday's shooting is one of two in Merced County this past week that involve gangs.

Investigators say on Saturday afternoon, 21 year old Tommy Henson was killed and his father wounded, when gang members shot them, while the two sat in front of their Dos Palos home.

According to the Merced county sheriff's office, gang-related crimes in 2010 will likely surpass the 2009 numbers.

In 2009, there were 18 gang-related assaults with a deadly weapon. With four months still left this year, there have already been 15. Last year there were 8 homicides, four with gang ties.

So far in 2010, there have been 10, three of which are gang related.

Merced county sheriff Mark Pazin says he's working on a plan to be more pro-active.

"To go ahead and say hey, you're wearing a different color, I'm gonna gun you down is just ridiculous. And we're acutely aware of those persons that are invoking this type of lifestyle and we're keeping on them.

In all, six suspects have been arrested for the shootings in planada and dos Palos.

Justin hopes to be released from the hospital within the next couple of days. Monica's recovery is expected to take longer.

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dos palos, planada, shooting, local, shannon handy
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