Seventy-five Fresno police officers are on alert for more gang violence this weekend as Chief Jerry Dyer and his department are trying to stop a series of retaliatory shootings that have resulted in one person killed and five wounded since Thursday afternoon.
The gun violence involving southwest Fresno gang members took place both in the southwest area Thursday afternoon and evening, and on Blackstone Avenue in central Fresno early Friday and near Community Regional Medical Center later in the day.
At a Friday news conference at police headquarters, Dyer said two rival factions are bent on continuing the shootings, despite efforts by southwest Fresno church ministers to broker an end to the violence.
“We are talking to the pastors to get them to intervene, but gang members are not listening,” Dyer said. “They are out of control and dead-set on payback.”
The shootings began Thursday afternoon when a 16-year-old was shot in the face. He was standing on an Elm Avenue median near Jensen Avenue, trying to raise medical funds for a family member with cancer.
Several hours later, two males were shot near Valencia and Fruit avenues in southwest Fresno. One of them, identified as Anthony Perry, 24, died of his wounds. A second man, Donquiel Chapman, 37, was shot in the leg. Police believe the victims or others nearby returned fire. Dyer said arriving officers had difficulty getting to the victims because there were about 30 people on scene who initially interfered. He said officers believed the bystanders were trying to hide at least one firearm at the scene.
Dyer identified Anthony Perry as the son of former Edison High School assistant football coach Tony Perry, who recently passed away. The chief noted that Tony Perry was a “much beloved” figure in the southwest Fresno community.
Shortly after 2 a.m. Friday, there was a confrontation at Blackstone and Garland avenues in central Fresno that led to a rolling gun battle north on Blackstone nearly to Shaw Avenue. It ended with one man, identified as Robert Evans, shot in the head and two females wounded. Evans was in critical condition. Police believe a black Mercedes involved in the Valencia incident was at the ARCO station on Garland when the confrontation began and the car may have been followed from a nightclub. The driver of the Mercedes was not injured.
There may have been another male occupant in the car during an exchange of gunfire as the Mercedes sped away from a silver sedan, said Dyer. The bullet-riddled Mercedes, with at least one tire flattened, remained on Blackstone as the morning commute began.
Minutes before the news conference, another shooting involving a car that police believe was the same silver sedan happened on Clark Street and Divisadero Street near the hospital. The target of that shooting escaped injury.
Dyer said the violence involves two groups, known as “Mugs” and “Twamps,” overarching factions under which other southwest gangs are aligned.
Police are also concerned with the volume of gunfire exchanged during the shootings. Seven gunshots were fired on Elm, 14 on Valencia and officers have “no idea” how many bullets flew during the Blackstone exchange. Officers combed Blackstone for several hours for shell casings after that incident.