Crime

In wake of Kayla Foster slaying, Fresno leaders call for end to gang shootings

Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer, Mayor Lee Brand and southwest Fresno community leaders on Friday joined together to call for gang members to put their guns down and end shootings like the one that killed Kayla Foster in May.

The call for peace came in a Friday afternoon news conference at the start of a hot holiday weekend and held just outside the southwest policing substation named after Irwin Foster Sr. – Kayla’s great-uncle.

Kayla Foster was shot and killed Memorial Day weekend. Police say Foster was standing outside a southwest Fresno apartment complex with friends and they don’t believe she was the target of the shooter. Kayla, 18, was a senior at Central High School and had recently attended prom and grad night before the shooting.

Both Dyer and Brand expressed strong emotions about violence in Fresno during the meeting with the media, along with hope that their meeting with the leaders would help the city turn a corner.

“I really believe today is a defining moment in Fresno,” said Dyer, who added that he had heard the “outrage of broken-hearted people” over senseless gang violence. He said those at the meeting expressed strong emotions and a desire to “unite to stop the violence in Fresno.”

Dyer cited two decades of high-profile gang shootings in southwest Fresno — the slaying of an Edison High football player , shot while walking from school; the shooting of Andrew Mitchell, put in a wheelchair for life after he was hit by a bullet while he was playing in his yard; Janessa Ramirez, who died in her mother’s arms in 2015 after she was shot by a stray bullet at Clinton and Marks avenues; Rashad Halford Jr., slain while he sat with his father in 2016 outside an apartment at First and Tulare streets; and Kayla Foster.

“The question we have to ask is, ‘How much is enough?’ ” Dyer asked. He said the Crime Stoppers program is upping the reward for the arrest of those who fired the fatal shots at Foster to $5,000. The chief said police have received four tips that may solve that case.

“We do not have enough evidence yet to make an arrest,” he added.

The Crime Stoppers program will also pay $2,000 for information leading to the arrest of a gang member with a handgun, $3,000 for a gang member with an assault rifle, and $3,000 for the arrest of someone involved in human trafficking.

Brand told the leaders he was committed to expanding jobs and education opportunities for southwest Fresno.

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