The Northwood Apartment complex, 582 N. Riverside Drive (16th West), has always been a quiet place to live.
That all changed about three weeks ago, when members of a new gang - Surenos 13, a California import - began moving into the apartments.Now, the community is being terrorized by the gang, according to the apartment manager, who was fearful of having his name published.
At least eight renters - weary of vandalism, threats, assaults, muggings, shootings and burglaries - have moved out during the past 10 days. Several other renters are planning to follow.
"One lady moved in this week and has already moved out. Every night I get a phone call. Somebody's breaking in . . . someone's out shooting a gun. The police have been here every night for two weeks," the manager said. "It's amazing the havoc these (gang members) can wreak."
The gang problem heated up Monday night and early Tuesday with at least five shooting incidents in the area. Two renters turned in their keys Monday night, saying they've had enough, the manager said.
About 7:10 p.m., a Northwood renter who was mugged last week by a group of juveniles observed the same youths firing large-caliber handguns outside his window.
About the same time, a car driving on Redwood Road near Fifth North was fired at by a group of juveniles walking along the street. Moments later, the driver of the car fired a shot at the same juveniles near Fifth North and Starcrest Drive (1820 West).
"He shot at them as they were running through the parking lot here," said a witness, who asked not to be identified.
Jim Armstrong, a phone company employee working in the area, said he also witnessed gunfire when someone fired at an automobile traveling right beside him while he was driving near Sixth North and Redwood Road.
"They pulled out in front of us and we heard . . . somewhere between four and half a dozen shots," he said. "They weren't stopping. They were out of there!"
Police arrested a man and two boys after chasing them through the Northwood apartment complex. But no one could identify them as the ones responsible for firing shots.
Officers were called back to the apartments about 12:30 a.m. after receiving calls of more shots fired in the area. Lt. Tom Brown said a handgun was recovered and police arrested two juveniles for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Three juveniles were also arrested, two for interfering with an officer and one for disturbing the peace.
Brown, though hesitant to use the word "gang," acknowledged that a "group" of individuals in the apartment complex "has been causing a lot of problems in the area."
According to the manager, many residents have almost given up on the police because of dispatchers' rudeness and because officers have not managed to alleviate the problems.
The renters, many of whom have recently purchased firearms, are becoming fearful to report crime because the gang members always threaten to retaliate and the police have breached the complainants' request for anonymity.