After two murders, Lemoore Police hit gang activity hard, with results

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No arrests have been made for the murder of Wanya Jones. The 16-year-old was stabbed to death one afternoon in May. (KFSN)

No arrests have been made for the murder of Wanya Jones. The 16-year-old was stabbed to death one afternoon in May. A week later, Anthony Magana was stabbed to death just down the street.

The murders were Lemoore's first homicides in five years, and police said both were gang-related.

"After the two homicides, we began taking a more proactive approach," said Commander Michael Kendall, Lemoore Police Department.

In the past month, Commander Kendall said a small team that makes up the Gang Suppression Unit has contacted all of Lemoore's 193 known gang-members. They have searched 65 of their homes, and made 46 arrests-- which officials say is higher than normal.

Kendall said the proactive approach is working and said gang-related crimes in the city have come to a screeching halt. Locals have noticed, and so have the gang-members.

We have the gang-members themselves telling us, 'hey man, you guys are out and about a lot, I've been stopped like five times by you guys in the past two weeks.' Yeah, absolutely, you know? We're going to stop you, we're going to contact you, because if you're up to no good, we don't need that in our town," said Officer Kody Rogers, Lemoore Police Department.

Rogers, a gang unit officer was born and raised in Lemoore. He takes pride in protecting people here, and finding common ground with even the city's most dangerous gang-members.

For instance, Rogers said he has arrested one known gang member at least a handful of times. But after their brief conversation, they shook hands-- the respect was mutual.

"When you can sit there and tell someone, 'hey, I can get you help if you want it,' it's different from someone just going through the motions. And that's what we don't want-we don't want officers like that."

Crime has dropped off, gang members are on guard, and police hope what they are doing here can help prevent another tragedy.

Police are also still looking for one suspect wanted in the May stabbing death of Anthony Magana-- 23-year-old Issac Gaytan, who is considered armed and dangerous.

Related Topics:
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