Carson City Sheriff's deputies are on "high alert" this week as almost two months of escalating gang activity spilled over into a local business late Monday night.
Long-feuding members of the Eastwood Tokers and Bambinos gangs have been trading violent acts and, around 9 p.m. Monday, two gang members walked into the Jack In The Box in the North Carson Wal-Mart shopping center and began calling out an employee.
The employee the rival gang members were looking for was not there. Instead, an altercation ensued with another employee " one allegedly unaffiliated with either gang.
The employee sustained minor injuries.
Though the altercation "could have ended worse" Furlong said gangs here have officially "crossed the line."
"This is at the top for me, now " today," he said. "We've recently not missed a week where there's not been a stabbing. I apologize if this causes delays in our other service. But this has to take a high priority."
Furlong said the nature of recent "tit-for-tat" gang crimes is most disturbing. Much of the violence before this recent spate has been limited to random shootings between the two gangs.
On Oct. 27, 2006, during a Halloween party on a street lined with $300,000 homes, gunfire erupted between Bambinos and Eastwood Tokers. When the smoke from more than 21 rounds cleared, a 20-year-old father was dying, lying on the sidewalk with a gunshot wound to his head. An admitted Eastwood Toker was driving himself to the hospital with gunshot wounds to his chest, arm and ankle.
"We're talking mostly stabbings right now," Furlong said. "To stab people is very intimate. Studies show it is the most personal crime. You have to look into a man's eyes if you're going to stab him.
"For most of us " it just goes far beyond the norm. And that's the type of scary level (of thought) we're dealing with here."
Furlong said most of the crimes before Monday night's stabbing have been confined to individual residents or neighborhoods, but taking the feud to a public place, a business, is something he said is "intolerable."
Almost all the gang-related crime here is gang-on-gang, he explained, noting once public places and innocent victims " as the worker who was hurt Monday night appeared to be " get in the fray, the "alarms go off."
"When a gang comes in and attacks someone they don't know based on questionable information, that's a real concern to me," he said.
While there is no official taskforce assigned to gangs at the sheriff's office, Furlong said six deputies and one supervisor are trained to help mitigate the gang problem here.
Federal grant funds, which help pay for the ad hoc group, are sure to run out, he warned.
"I don't want to politicize this at all," Furlong said. "But the facts are the facts. This is a problem we have to face. And when I go in front of the (board of supervisors) this week and ask for money " it's something we need to consider having (a gang unit) full-time. These federal funds are not endless."
The gang problem has shown signs of continued growth here over the past three years.
According to police statistics, 15 percent of the crimes committed in Carson City in 2005 were perpetrated by members of Carson City's five main gangs. Out of an estimated 54,000 residents, 680 gang bangers or gang associates are responsible for that 15 percent and it's only getting worse, an official said.
"I want the community to know we have a problem," said Sgt. Mark Marshall, gang officer with the Carson City Sheriff's Department in the wake of a spate of gang crimes last year. "For a small number of people, those are pretty impressive statistics."
The first noteworthy gang-related death was in 1998 when Sammy Resendiz, the purported founder of the Eastwood Tokers, was beaten to death in a motel room by a group of American Indian youth seeking revenge for an assault on a girl. That assault was perpetrated by the same Eastwood Toker shot in 2006's Halloween gun battle.
"It's something that's happening here and now and we need to figure out a way to stop it," Furlong said.
Recent gang activity in Carson City
Carson City's gangs all claim allegiance to the Surenos, a prison-spawned gang from California whose enemies are the Nortenos. A difference between Carson City gangs from gangs in other areas is that these gangs aren't operating any large-scale criminal enterprises. Here are some of the alleged gang-related incidents in Carson City in the past six years:
- A 19-year-old with gang affiliation was shot in the thigh Aug. 12 on Woodside Drive, an area known for gangs.
- Shots were fired by Eastwood Tokers at Lima Street members in the busy parking lot of the Carson City Wal-Mart on July 31.
- A 16-year-old Eastwood Toker was shot in the face July 17, in front of a home on August Drive.
- A 31-year-old pastor, was shot in the head trying to buy methamphetamine from two Eastwood Tokers on Nov. 14, 2005, on West College Parkway.
- A 16-year-old was shot in the chest Oct. 15, 2005, at a dance hall in the 1700 block of North Carson Street. An Eastwood Toker is believed responsible, but an arrest has not been made.
- A Lima Street man was shot in the abdomen by an Eastwood Toker on Nov. 24, 2004, at the corner of Brown Street and Edmonds Drive.
- A 17-year-old gang member shot himself in the leg with a gun he was carrying in his pocket when he jumped over a fence on Nov. 1, 2004.
- A 14-year-old boy was shot in the leg by Bambinos in the 100 block of Koontz Lane on June 11, 2004.
- A 22-year-old Eastwood Toker, was shot in the hand by a Lima Street member as he rode in a vehicle at Robinson and Saliman streets on July 29, 2002.
- A Lima Street man was shot twice in the back on April 30, 2001, on Airport Road by an Eastwood Toker.
" Compiled by Nevada Appeal Staff Writer F.T. Norton
- Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.