One week after East Palo Alto police Chief Ron Davis responded to a spike in gun violence by declaring a crime emergency in the city, patrol units have made 27 arrests in a crackdown focused on the Norteno street gang, officials announced Tuesday.
Ten of the 27 suspects arrested were known Norteno gang members, Officer Veronica Barries said. Barries said that the arrest offenses ranged from traffic and probation violations, to narcotics and gun violations.
Since the crime emergency was declared on May 20, a day after 15-year-old Jose Quinonez was shot and killed in what appeared to be a gang-related shooting, a multi-agency enforcement team of local police officers, sheriff's deputies, and probation and parole officers have swept San Mateo County targeting known gang members and their associates.
Investigators believe the recent spike in violence -- including a shooting at a bus stop that injured a grandmother, her six-year-old granddaughter and four other people earlier this month -- stems from an ongoing feud within the Norteno gang.
Five homicides and more than 50 firearms assaults have taken place in East Palo Alto since January, according to police estimates. It was too early to confirm if any of the 27 suspects arrested over the last week were connected to the recent shootings, Barries said.
Davis said in an interview last week that Quinonez' killing was the final straw in deciding to declare the crime emergency, a move that allowed the chief to double the number of patrol officers on the street at peak times and put into action a wave of law enforcement and gang intervention efforts.
On Wednesday, Davis will participate in a bilingual town hall meeting with local pastors and clergy to speak to community members' concerns about the increase in violence. The meeting is open to the public and is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at the Apostolic Assembly of East Palo Alto, located at 721 Donohoe St. In the coming weeks, Davis said that police plan to team up with faith-based organizations, local service providers, the district attorney's office, and the U.S. Attorney's Office to hold a gang intervention "call-in" with leaders of the Norteno gang.
The Police Department will also continue to enforce the crime emergency with the extra patrols and multi-agency deployments targeting Nortenos.