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MailTribune.com
  • White City shooting spurs neighborhood patrol

    White City drive-by shooting spurs residents to strart patrolling neighborhood
  • A White City man whose home was hit with a bullet during a drive-by shooting Saturday says the best way to fight fire is with fire.
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      Anyone with information about Saturday's drive-by shooting in White City is encouraged to contact the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Tip Line at 541-618-1847.
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      How to help
      Anyone with information about Saturday's drive-by shooting in White City is encouraged to contact the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Tip Line at 541-618-1847.
  • A White City man whose home was hit with a bullet during a drive-by shooting Saturday says the best way to fight fire is with fire.
    Tucker Campagna, a 35-year-old former Marine, said he has been patrolling his Avenue H neighborhood with a high-capacity, magazine-fed AR15-style rifle and .45-caliber handgun strapped to his hip for a few hours each evening since Sunday, waiting and watching.
    A pair of his neighbors have joined in on the armed community watch, he said, which will carry on until the residents are confident in the safety of their neighborhood on the northern outskirts of White City.
    Jackson County Sheriff's Department and Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement detectives are investigating the drive-by shooting, which sent the echo of gunfire across the neighborhood just before 9 p.m. Saturday but injured no one.
    Sheriff's Sgt. Nathan Sickler said investigators have recovered several 9 mm bullet casings but declined to reveal how many, citing the ongoing investigation.
    He said police have been receiving tips related to the shooting.
    The vehicle involved is described as a older-model, red Honda sedan, which Campagna said he could identify.
    Sickler said police have not determined why the drive-by occurred, though the neighborhood has been plagued with gang activity.
    "We don't know if this was just a random act or if there were specific gang ties to this shooting yet," Sickler said. "It's really not safe to assume anything at this point."
    The neighborhood surrounding the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Avenue H, where the drive-by shooting took place, is a mix of newly developed houses and aging trailer homes.
    One residence near the intersection, a manufactured home in the 3800 block of Avenue H, was the target of a drive-by shooting in July 2009, Sickler said.
    Two known Norteņos gang members used to live in the home, but have since moved out, Sickler said. A few weeks before the 2009 shooting, the neighborhood was the scene of suspected gang violence when a group of teens threatened to beat two boys with a baseball bat. The group dispersed after the boys' father fired a shot into the air, officials said at the time.
    "It's been pretty quiet since then," Campagna said, who has lived in the neighborhood for just over six years. "I know that a former gang member was living there and got busted."
    According to Jackson County property data, the owner of the home is Thomas Balero, whose sons were affiliated with the Norteņos gang, Sickler said. Oregon Judicial Department records show 24-year-old Romauldo Balero faced criminal charges of eluding police, tampering with evidence and theft while he lived in the home in 2008 and 2010.
    It doesn't appear that Thomas Balero's home was hit with any bullets, Sickler said. Nearby residents, including Campagna, said they were glad and described Balero as a nice man.
    Attempts to reach Thomas Balero were unsuccessful. Gates leading into Balero's driveway were closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
    Saturday night, Campagna was sitting inside his home with his 5- and 7-year-old sons when he heard the clack-clack of gunfire and then a "thud" against his house before running outside.
    "It was dark, all I could see was the taillights and a muzzle flashing from the car," said Campagna, adding that the car was traveling west toward Highway 62. The bullet struck the roof about 30 feet from his front door and went through an eave, lodging in the wall.
    Campagna, who said he deployed for one tour in Afghanistan in 2001, said he decided to start patrolling his neighborhood's streets armed because the response time of police to the area is typically slow, and he is afraid that if suspected gang activity is not met head on, its quick-to-flee perpetrators will not question committing further crime.
    "Every time we've called police they've showed up, but it seems like they are overwhelmed," Campagna said. "It's irritating that we spend all this money on things like deputies writing tickets to people who aren't wearing life jackets, and then we have a drive-by shooting and no one to patrol."
    Griselda Lopez-Marney, who shares a driveway with Campagna, said she is glad he is patrolling the streets armed.
    Her home was also hit with a stray bullet in Saturday's drive-by shooting and her shed was burglarized two months ago, she said.
    Lopez-Marney, 54, wasn't home Saturday evening, but she found a bullet lodged in the wall near her front window upon returning Tuesday.
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