A feud between a group of black students and a group of Tongan students at East High may have been responsible for a car burning last week, but Salt Lake police are downplaying reported gang-related elements of the incident.
Det. George Clegg said the students involved appear to have friends in two local gangs but he does not believe it was a gang confrontation that sparked ill feeling between the student groups."It apparently started at a social event and there were some words and bottle throwing," Clegg said. "We met with some of the kids on Friday and today we are meeting with some of the parents." He said he believes the situation has been improved.
Reports of a gang confrontation followed the burning of a red 1980 Pontiac Phoenix near Sixth South and Fifth East. The words "What's up Blood" were scrawled in the snow on the back window of the burned vehicle, an apparent reference to a black gang that calls itself "Bloods." A group of Tongan youths are calling themselves the "Tongan Crip Gangsters."
"We haven't tied the car incident to the youths involved," Clegg said. "We just don't know at this time if it is related."
Clegg said bad feelings between the student groups apparently festered during the week but were calmed before any known confrontation between the groups.
"All of these kids have been students together at one time or another," Clegg said. "The ones we talked to Friday are still students."
Police reports indicate that shots were apparently fired outside East High last Monday morning. About 1 a.m. Tuesday, witnesses reported seeing four teenage males fleeing from the vicinity of the burning car after three gunshots were heard. A gun was later recovered in a pile of ashes next to the car, but the car's owner denied owning the gun.