Fresno police launch gang sweep to counter shootings, homemade guns

The Fresno BeeJune 11, 2014 

Three gang-related shootings on Tuesday night and an uptick in homemade weapons have Fresno police preparing to combat gang violence as the summer months approach.

Officers have already started cracking down on gang activity over the last 28 days, which has resulted in more than 30 arrests and more than 90 weapons confiscated, said Chief Jerry Dyer during a Wednesday afternoon news conference where some of the weapons were displayed.

"We've been gearing up for the gang violence," Dyer said, adding the department has launched an operation "to get out and remove gang members and guns off the streets of Fresno."

The police department's street violence operation team, the regional gang task force known as MAGEC, and violent crime impact team will work together with other public safety agencies to monitor gang activity.

For example, officers keep an eye on social media posts about parties that are frequented by gang members. That's where violence often erupts, officers said.

Gang activity has already gotten off to a busy start. On Tuesday, officers responded to two drive-by shootings within four hours of each other at 128 and 108 W. Saginaw Way. A third shooting that night at 2014 S. 5th St. left two men injured.

Dyer also highlighted two more gang shootings that happened at parties. Three people were shot on May 25 on South 9th Street. On June 5, a drive-by shooting left a 22-year-old man shot and an 18-month-old girl wounded in the foot from a bullet that ricocheted, Dyer said.

"When gang members do shootings, innocent people get hit," Dyer said.

Assault rifles continue to be the most dangerous guns possessed by gang members. They are often exchanged between friends, brought into California illegally from neighboring states or gang members have girlfriends buy guns for them, Dyer said.

But many gang members these days are building their own assault rifles by ordering parts online or going into stores to buy parts and putting them together.

"The goal," Dyer said, "is to get every firearm out of the hands of gang members."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6495, or @bonhialee on Twitter.

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