The second of two teen-age brothers Fresno police say was involved in the shooting death of a rival turned himself in to officers Monday, as Chief Jerry Dyer provided details about the slaying and the Saturday shooting of the teen’s brother when officers closed in.
The 17-year-old, who was not identified by Dyer, was booked into the Fresno County Juvenile Justice Center. His 16-year-old sibling, who was shot by a Fresno police sergeant Saturday following a foot pursuit after the officer reportedly thought the boy was reaching for a gun, remains in very critical condition. No firearm was found after the shooting.
The chief said that in the aftermath of the weekend violence, officers are trying to calm emotions among both involved families to prevent more bloodshed. Police believe the boy and his brother are affiliated with the Calwa Bulldog gang and that his victim was associated with a rival tagging crew.
Any time an individual is shot and there is not a weapon, there are going to be questions.
Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer
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Friday, Eugenio Ybarra, 19, died after the car he was driving was hit by gunfire while he drove down First Street just south of Gettysburg Avenue. The car crashed into a tree, killing Ybarra and injuring three passengers. Police say the shooting followed a verbal altercation at a nearby pizza parlor and that the 17-year-old fired the bullet, although the 16 year had also been in possession of the handgun just prior to the shooting and was also wanted for murder.
As to video evidence of the incident, Dyer said:
“We’re not going to release any video at this point.”
He added that there are two videos related to the incidents:
▪ The first, from Friday, shows the brothers in possession of a gun in a smoke shop before Ybarra’s car was fired on.
▪ The second, Dyer said, is body-camera video that “shows the traffic stop (involving the 16-year-old) and the foot pursuit, but that video does not show the shooting itself ... that was from a separate officer.”
Dyer reacted to criticism from relatives of the 16-year-old, who protested that no weapon was found, by saying:
“Any time an individual is shot and there is not a weapon, there are going to be questions. We look at the totality of circumstances: the information that the officer had at the time.”
The Easter weekend violence has left “a lot of animosity” between two families and their friends, Chief Dyer said.
Dyer said that included that the 16-year-old was seen with a firearm, that he was involved in a murder the day before, and the officer’s belief that he (the officer) was going to be shot.
The shooting of the younger brother followed a stake-out of a home where police believed he was hiding, Dyer said. Officers spotted him getting into a car clutching clothing, and that action appeared similar to what he did the day before, when he was seen on the smoke shop video hiding a firearm in a shirt, the chief said. When officers pulled over the car near the northeast corner of East Shaw Avenue and North Fresno Street, the boy was at first compliant before running from officers, who pursued him across Fresno and then north onto East Keats Avenue, where the shooting occurred.
Dyer said the Easter weekend violence has left “a lot of animosity” between two families and their friends. Officers are talking to both sides to mitigate the anger.
He called the situation a tragedy.
“We have a 17-year-old in custody for murder, a 16-year-old in grave condition, a 19-year-old who was killed and three passengers injured, families left behind to grieve, and an officer who has shot someone ... and he’s going through a difficult time as well.”
The case is destined to be examined by the city’s Office of Independent Review, or police auditor. But that office is in flux as Fresno is in the process of hiring a new person to fill the role on a full-time basis and live in the community to respond to incidents more immediately. The application deadline for the position is at the end of this week.
“The deadline for independent police auditor applicants is this Friday,” City Manager Bruce Rudd said late Monday afternoon. “Given the time that it will take for Internal Affairs to conduct and conclude their investigation, this particular officer-involved shooting will be reviewed by the new police auditor.” The auditor will evaluate the case to determine whether there were breaches of department policies and assess if there are areas where policies may be improved.