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Bullets fly in multiple gang incidents

Published: Thursday, June 15 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

West Valley police and gang detectives responded to seven shootings in the city between Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

The most dramatic incident happened about 4:30 p.m. Sunday when rival gangs exchanged between 50 and 60 gunshots outside an apartment complex. Stray bullets went through apartment and car windows and into the side of the brick complex. Even so, no one was hurt in the shootout.

Two innocent people were shot, however, on the Bangerter Highway earlier that day in an apparent case of mistaken identity.

Three people headed to Spanish Fork were stopped at a red light at 4100 South Bangerter about 3 a.m. when another vehicle pulled up along side them, said West Valley police Capt. Tom McLachlan. A passenger in the second vehicle rolled down a window, said some words and then fired into the other car.

The driver suffered a superficial gunshot wound to the back. He was taken to a local hospital, treated and released, McLachlan said. A male passenger was shot in the leg and taken to LDS Hospital. Police did not have an updated condition on him. A female passenger was uninjured.

Just a few hours later, investigators located a suspect vehicle with four people inside. Two known gang members were arrested for investigation of attempted homicide, and McLachlan said detectives Monday were still investigating the other two people who had been in the car.

Another shooting incident started about 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Lake Park Apartment complex near 1900 South and 2550 West. An unknown number of people were involved in a gang fight using handguns and rifles, McLachlan said.

The exact cause of the fight was still under investigation Monday, but McLachlan said tensions had apparently been building between the gangs, both of whom have histories of violence.

"There's been a lot of graffiti and a lot of crossouts (of rival gang member graffiti)," he said. "Usually graffiti means they're claiming an area."

One problem was apparently the fact that members of both gangs lived in the same apartment complex, McLachlan said. That means gang members who live there and the friends who visited them, usually fellow gang members, frequently crossed paths.

One juvenile was arrested in connection with the shootout and more arrests were expected. West Valley police met Monday afternoon to discuss the situation."We're having additional meetings with the chief to develop tactical plans for this area," McLachlan said.

Some of those plans include patrols in the area. The Salt Lake Metro Gang Unit was also being used to investigate the situation and gather information.

"Knowing the groups involved, it's probably not over," McLachlan said. "Retaliation is a possibility. We're going to try and gain intelligence to prevent retaliation from happening."

The shootout was not the only incident at the apartment complex over the weekend. Saturday night, multiple shots were fired into the apartment of a woman. Investigators believed that situation involved a girlfriend and ex-boyfriend, McLachlan said. No one was injured.

About 11 p.m. Friday, more cars and a building were hit in the complex when five to six shots were fired from an unknown person or group. It was unknown Monday if all incidents at the apartment complex were related.

Also Friday, a man was treated for a gunshot wound to the leg near 4400 West and 3300 South. It was unclear Monday how the man was shot.

In yet another shooting incident, multiple shots were fired at a car load of people near 5100 West and 4700 South just before 7 a.m. Saturday. No one was injured in that incident.


E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

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