Three indicted in gang drive-by
A Jackson County grand jury has indicted three men for their suspected roles in a gang-related drive-by shooting Monday night near South Medford High School.
In addition to two Talent men arrested Tuesday — Gerardo Reyes, 20, and German Reyes Real, 18 — the grand jury indicted Jose Javier Laris, 18, of Rogue Valley Mobile Village, 3761 S. Pacific Highway, Medford. Each of the three faces six counts of attempted aggravated murder and an unlawful use of a weapon charge, officials said.
Investigators suspect that Gerardo Reyes was the driver of a sedan from which shots were fired and his brother, German Reyes Real, was the gunman, Medford police Lt. Tim Doney said.
They were arrested Tuesday night, one in Medford and one outside their family's home in the Shady Brook Mobile Home Park in Talent.
Detectives believe Laris provided a small-caliber rifle to Reyes Real. A 16-year-old boy also was in the car when multiple shots were fired into a car with four teenage girls and two young men inside on Monroe Street near J Street Monday at about 11 p.m., but the boy was not charged by the grand jury, Doney said.
Laris was arrested at the Jackson County District Attorney's office at about 4 p.m. Thursday after the grand jury met.
Police seized the suspected car, a 1992 Mercury Marquis, Tuesday, and a .22-caliber rifle linked to the shooting Wednesday.
Police said several people involved in the case are members or associates of the Sureños and Norteños gangs in both Oregon and California, but declined to confirm who among the suspects and victims had gang ties.
The three suspects remain at the Jackson County Jail, with bail set at $1 million each. Jail records don't show any immigration holds that would indicate they are in the country illegally.
In a continuing crackdown on people suspected of being involved with gangs, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department is searching for three young men who were at a gang-related New Year's Eve party that erupted in violence in White City early Jan. 1.
Jorge Pacheco, 20, Jose Santos Perez, 18, and a 16-year-old whose brother is already in jail on charges linked to the party and ensuing fight are believed to be in Tulare County, Calif., sheriff's Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan said.
The party in the 3200 block of Antelope Road erupted in violence after two carloads of young men drove up and began assaulting partygoers with broken bottles and other objects. They fled and eluded police. A 23-year-old Hispanic man was stabbed and driven to Providence Medford Medical Center by friends.
Investigators haven't arrested anyone in the stabbing, but have arrested eight people ranging in age from 14 to 22 on charges of riot and second-degree disorderly conduct stemming from the incident. Two are teenage girls and the rest are men and boys. The arrests were made locally and in California between Jan. 9 and Feb. 12.
Investigators have seized gang-related clothing, drawings of gang symbols, and photos of people posing with known gang members and showing hand signs that link them with Sureños, Fagan said.
He said the sheriff's department, along with Medford police and other police agencies across the county, has adopted a "zero-tolerance policy" for criminal gang activity.
"The whole criminal justice system is taking a stand," Fagan said. "If this gets a foothold, it will be much more difficult to deal with later."
While Salem and Redding, Calif., have a long heritage of gang activity and families with several generations of gang involvement, Jackson County has a small faction of upstart activity, he said.
He said people associated with gangs in other communities have come here and are recruiting young members, in part to add to their marijuana distribution network.
The young men currently wanted in association with the New Year's Eve incident have long-standing family ties in the White City area and friends in California's Central Valley, where some arrests linked to the fight here were made, Fagan said.
The clash at the party, a street fight in Medford on New Year's Day and three stabbings reported over three weeks in December and early January raised police concerns about escalating gang violence.
Police were summoned to a party involving suspected gang members on Pinecroft Avenue, on the northeast edge of Medford, Saturday night after a 16-year-old boy affiliated with the Sureños suffered a gunshot wound to his neck in an apparent suicide attempt. Other partygoers believed the shotgun was an illegal weapon and hid it, so detectives spent hours searching for the weapon as they tried to piece together what happened, Doney said.
The boy, Cody Eugene Sanders, died at Rogue Valley Medical Center at around 7 p.m. Thursday, hospital officials said.
Shaley Gomez, 16, who grew up with Sanders in Medford, said he was a friendly person who had struggled with homelessness and his mother's drug addiction and had been depressed recently. She said his wide circle of friends included gang members.
"He wanted to fit in," she said. "He wanted somebody to love him. He wanted somebody to lean on."
Tom Cole, Kids Unlimited executive director, said he knew Sanders had endured many struggles that typically make kids vulnerable to the influence of gangs.
"He felt so hopeless (about) his role with gangs," Cole said. "He felt there was no way out.
"We haven't seen this sequence of tragedies before," Cole said. "I hope some positives can come out of these negatives."
Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail email@example.com.