Sunday, July 6, 2008

Police arrest 8 in gang stabbings


A 15-year-old boy was killed and two other teenagers suffered injuries during gang-related stabbings that occurred along the Santa Barbara waterfront just before fireworks lit up the sky above on Friday evening, police said.
Authorities arrested at least eight people in connection with the attacks after interviewing more than 50 people and deploying the police department’s entire investigative division, Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte said.

Officers and medics arrived near the fountain at the entrance to Stearns Wharf after receiving reports of a stabbing at 9:16 p.m., police said, and found a 15-year-old boy with knife wounds.
During the same timeframe, witnesses flagged down officers in the 200 block of E. Cabrillo Boulevard, where another 15-year-old stabbing victim had been found.
Medics took the first victim to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he received treatment and was released.
Sgt. Duarte said the second victim, unresponsive at the scene, was pronounced dead after being taken to Cottage Hospital. Authorities have yet to release his identity.
Moments after arriving at the initial two crime scenes, officers learned a 14-year-old boy had been taken to Cottage Hospital by family members with a stab wound from an altercation he said had occurred near Cabrillo Boulevard.
Of the eight suspects arrested thus far, five are juveniles — including a 15-year-old boy arrested for homicide and active participation in a criminal street gang.
Police also booked a 13-year-old boy, a 15-year-old boy and a 17-year-old boy for conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon and gang participation, as well as a 15-year-old boy for gang participation, Sgt. Duarte said.
Officers also took 19-year-old Richard Silva Garcia, 18-year-old Edwin Josimar Miguel and 20-year-old Manuel Adrian Lira into custody for active participation in a criminal street gang, he added.
“Due to the number of officers working for the Fourth of July event, numerous officers were allocated from other assignments and responded to the hospital and both crime scene locations on Cabrillo Boulevard to assist with the investigation by conducting crowd control, detaining subjects, locating and interviewing witnesses, and securing evidence,” Sgt. Duarte said in a news release.
He said authorities are looking for a connection between the victims and are continuing to investigate. Members of the public with information about the incident are asked to call 897-2300.
Although Sgt. Duarte cited eight arrests in a news release, it’s unclear exactly how many suspects have been taken into custody. Mayor Marty Blum said authorities announced nine arrests during a press conference on the steps of City Hall on Saturday.
Reached Sunday, Mayor Blum said she didn’t feel the stabbings were related to the fireworks show.
“It didn’t matter if it was the Fourth of July or the eighth of August or whatever,” she said. “This was a planned event for the gang people.
“It really didn’t have to do with fireworks,” she continued. “It had to do with Westsiders challenging Eastsiders and Eastsiders challenging back. It’s one of the stupidest things that happens in the city.”
Mayor Blum also noted that a delay of 10 to 15 minutes in the middle of the fireworks show was not related to the gang attacks but a technical glitch with the music accompanying the show.
When asked if she had a message to those involved in gangs in Santa Barbara, the mayor emphasized the role of parents in talking to their children and giving them hope. She also urged gang members and affiliates to reach out and find other ways of occupying their time.
“Hurting people, killing people, having violence like that is not good for them, obviously, but it’s not good for the community either,” Mayor Blum said.
She noted youth jobs being offered by the city and local businesses, urging teens to visit a community center to sign up for the job program.
“These kids need to realize there’s a good life out there for them,” she said.

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