Madera sees sudden spike in gang violence

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Madera police are searching for suspects in three recent shootings and hoping community outreach efforts will help.

A shooting at McNally Park Friday evening marked the start of an unusually violent four days for the city of Madera. The gunfire wounded a 15-year-old boy and nearly hit a woman who lives across the street.

Maxine Barnett said, "My nephew and I were sitting on my couch eating pizza, and all of the sudden I heard like 6 or 7 shots, and my nephew said aunt Maxine they shot your window out!"

Barnett has already paid to have her window replaced, but you can still see a hole in the screen -- and hear the frustration in her voice.

"My feeling is these young kids need to understand there are more people in the world than themselves and shooting at random like that you can kill anybody," explained Barnett.

Police say that shooting was gang-related and so were the two that followed on Monday. Officers made contact with both men at the hospital and found evidence of one shooting scene on B Street.

Chief Steve Frazier with the Madera Police Department said, "We don't know if that was a retaliation shooting or just an opportunity, but three shootings is too much in the city of Madera. We're obviously very concerned about it, and I'm certain the community is concerned about it."

Chief Frazier says the number of shootings this year is now at nine, compared to 45 at the same time last year. He hopes the dramatic drop is due in part to ongoing community outreach efforts. Officers are now stopping by McNally Park every day to connect with local families -- and also stepping up enforcement on the streets.

"Right now for an extended period we've got extra patrol out, and as a gang member if you're moving the next couple of nights my guess is you'll be stopped, and if you stay out you'll be stopped repeatedly," explained Chief Frazier.

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