Last year while Cindy Kelly’s daughter and a group of her friends were walking home from Lindhurst High School, they encountered a group of young men in a car at a local convenience store. As they walked, the car pulled out of the parking lot and drove in the group’s direction. As the car got closer, it slowed down and the men pulled out guns and pointed them at the group.
The Girls ran to the store and called the police who had to drive them home. Although nothing serious occurred, gang violence is a growing problem in the Yuba County community. From November 19, 2000 to January 23, 2001, there have been eight drive-by shooting reported in the Yuba County.
The most serious happened on the night of December 26, 2000, when four teenage boys were injured by flying bullets as a car sped away in the 4600 block of Ardmore Avenue in Olivehurst.The first drive-by shooting occurred on November 19, 2000, in Viearra Lane, Linda. According to the Appeal Democrat, undersheriff Steve Durfor said that Cheng Yang was believed to be the suspect, but he has not been arrested.The last shooting occurred on January 23,2001 in West Linda.
Sheriff Virginia Black of Marysville attributes the recent drive-by shootings to gang rivalry. “Right now Asian gang members seem to be behind some of the shootings,” Black said. But she also reports that Skinheads, Bloods and Crips gangs are also a problem in the community.In January, Sheriff Black created the Yuba County Gang Task Force. The task force is focused on pursuing criminally active gang members.
“We’ve always looked at gang violence in our community, but with this program we’re not working alone,” Black said.The task force includes the the Marysville Police Department, the Wheatland Police Department, the Yuba County Probation Department, the Yuba County District Attorney’s Office and the Marysville Joint Unified School District.
The task force has regular meetings to share information about gang activity around the different parts of the county. “By sharing this information, we have a more detailed description of the gangs around the area,” Black said.
Not only are they sharing the information, but the information is also being put into an intelligence tracking software program by Sgt. Kip Duncan. This information will help identify gang members at a faster rate to all agencies working in the task force.
“This a great program because we have gang information at our disposal,” Black said.Besides creating the Yuba County Gang Task Force, the Yuba County Police Department is alert for gang activity while patrolling the county.
One of the schools that is working with the Yuba County Gang Task Force and is prone to gang violence is Lindhurst High School. Bob Miller, Assistant Principal of the high school, is concerned with the growing number of gang violence incidents in the community.
“There are major gang rivalries in the community that carry over to our school, and it disrupts the whole campus,” Miller said.
Miller reports that there are fights almost everyday in his campus that it is hard to keep a count. “Students get disrupted when things like this happen. That’s why our school does not tolerate any sort of gang violence.”
After a student gets so many warnings of any gang related activity, he or she will be expelled. Miller’s school is also working to get a dress code to reduce the tension with gangs around the campus. The school is also working with juvenile officers to reduce the violence in school.
Although Miller would like to have an officer patrolling the campus full time, at this moment it is not possible.Sheriff Black said that she currently has four vacancies in the patrol division. Due to the shortage, it is impossible to assign an experienced officer to the campus full time.
“I don’t have a large number of experienced officers to be patrolling the campus all day,” Black said. “If something serious was to happen , I want someone with knowledge to be there.”Black believes that distrust and intolerance is what causes people to turn to violence.
“We are a very diverse community, and we need to respect our differences,” Black said.
Although no deaths have occurred from these shooting, it may not be far from happening.Sheriff insists that what we need to do is to “take an aggressive position against violence and not tolerate any form of gang activity because if we don’t, then innocent people will start getting killed.”