Reacting to a New York Times story last month chronicling the violent Bulldogs street gang and its embrace of Fresno State's mascot, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin wrote in a commentary published by The Bee:
"... thanks to our law enforcement personnel, as well as our dedicated community leaders, Fresno streets are safer than any other time in the past decade.
"That's why I take exception to the Times' recent story about the once-formidable Fresno Bulldogs gang. The Times' story left the impression that our community is crawling with gang members — all of whom prefer to wear the colors and logo of the Fresno State University Bulldogs mascot.
"This depiction is far from accurate."
However, a Monday night shooting at Cedar and Butler avenues offered evidence that Times reporter Malia Wollan got it right when she wrote, "Fresno and the surrounding region have long been overrun by Bulldogs. And where the violent pack goes, trouble follows."
According to Fresno police, two Bulldogs shot at an off-duty police officer — apparently because they thought the officer was a gang member.
The unidentified officer was driving his personal car and speaking to his wife on the phone when the gunbattle began. The officer wasn't hit in the barrage of bullets, but he wounded gang members Ricky Burciaga and Mario Rangel when he returned fire.
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Tuesday that the officer "acted heroically." The police chief added that if the officer had not been armed, he would not be alive.
That's a chilling statement. It implies that for law-abiding citizens to be safe while driving and walking the streets of Fresno, they best be armed.
Dyer also issued a warning to the Bulldogs gang Tuesday.
"Starting today, we're going to be doing things differently," Dyer said.
"We're going to take away their anonymity. We're going to do search warrants and it's not going to stop. This was a police officer, but it could have been anybody."
Are these the words of a police chief who believes that Fresno's gang problem is under control? Are they the words of a police chief who believes that Fresnans can go about their holiday shopping without having to look over their shoulders or worry about losing their lives?
These are the words of a police chief who, once again, has declared war on a gang that for too long has terrorized Fresno and other Central California communities.