A day after after a 20-year-old was killed and an 11-year-old was shot, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said he is deploying more officers in the city in anticipation of retaliatory shootings.
According to Dyer, 40 more officers were working Sunday, and he expects to have more in the coming days. Dyer said although crime is down 40 percent, there has been an increase in the past 12 hours.
The shooting Saturday at an apartment complex on Marks Avenue near McKinley Avenue that killed 20-year-old Trazhan Heights and injured an 11-year-old boy was part of an ongoing feud between west Fresno gangs, Dyer said during a news conference Sunday afternoon.
Dyer said Heights parked his car at the complex around 11:30 p.m. and walked up to an apartment to go inside. An 11-year-old boy opened the wooden door and saw Heights, who he knew, through an iron security door.
The boy then saw a person walk up behind Heights and begin shooting at him from behind. Heights was hit multiple times in the back, and the boy was hit once in his right arm. Dyer said the boy shut the door and ran to wake his brother, who was sleeping in another room.
The boy was treated at a hospital and is expected to fully recover, Dyer said. The boy is not involved in gangs, Dyer said.
Four people were inside the apartment at the time of the shooting, including the 11-year-old and a 3-year-old, Dyer said. Police do not have a description of the suspect or a vehicle, and it’s been difficult getting people to talk.
“It is typical for when we have any type of gang shootings,” Dyer said. “Out of fear, people not wanting to get involved, not wanting to be the next victim.”
Dyer said the shooting could be the start of an uptick in city violence, and he pointed to two other incidents that occurred Sunday: Around 9:45 a.m., 16 shots were fired in the area of Waterman and Inyo streets in southwest Fresno, but only a car was hit. Then at 3:36 p.m., 21 shots were fired at 2606 E. Robinson Ave. near Dakota Avenue and Fresno Street in central Fresno. A bullet struck a home, but no one was injured.
Dyer said the fatal shooting is related to the series of gang-related shootings over a two-and-a-half day period starting Feb. 8 where several people were injured or killed, including 20-year-old Zurich Chatman, who was not involved in gangs, Dyer said.
A 16-year-old boy was shot in the face at Elm and Church avenues on Feb. 8, and he survived, Dyer said. A few hours later, two people were shot on the 400 block of West Valencia Avenue. Anthony Perry – the son of Tony Perry, a longtime football coach and mentor who died in November – died from a gunshot wound to the chest.
On Feb. 9, two cars exchanged gunfire on Blackstone Avenue, leaving two women wounded, Dyer said. Chatman was killed Feb. 10.
When more officers were deployed in February, it worked to curb the violence, but “we knew it wouldn’t be forever,” Dyer said. There hadn’t been any west Fresno-related shootings until Saturday, Dyer added.
“We want them to know that their bullets do not have eyes,” Dyer said. “There’s always potential for an innocent child to be struck like last night. We’ve had far too many kids in our city shot. Some of them have been killed.”