Fresno police address social media claims about shootings as fears rise among families

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Three shootings in central and southeast Fresno since Tuesday night sent three men and an 18-year-old woman to the hospital.

RELATED: Fresno police search for multiple shooters after two men shot in central Fresno

They are the latest victims of violence, which police say is primarily the result of rival gang members targeting one another. But the frequent gunfire has many living in fear.

"I talk to some of my kids they call me, going what if I'm riding with the wrong people? They're just shooting at anybody. What if they catch me walking down the street? The parents are scared for the kids," says Joby Jones.

He works closely with kids and adults to provide positive outlets through the Street Saints program and says the shootings are more reckless than he's ever seen in the past.

Deputy Chief Mark Salazar says innocent bystanders are occasionally caught in the crossfire, but he does not believe anyone is out randomly targeting residents.
"We've seen some social media posts about a new gang, 'Catch a Body.' That's all rumor. That's to incite the community. There is no serial killer out there. There is no one doing random police shootings. It's our gangs," says Salazar.

He and several commanders met with about 20 community leaders at Westside Church of God in Southwest Fresno last Tuesday before launching a violent crime suppression operation. He says the group expressed a desire for a law enforcement presence without "over-policing."

RELATED: Fresno Police continuing operation to crack down on growing shootings, murders

"So we made a commitment not to pull over 100 people and hope we have an armed gang member in there. Our operation is very intel driven, it's very focused on those efforts, so we're seeing some success with that," explains Salazar.
He adds officers have taken 37 guns off the street this past week and arrested 61 gang members, including some on federal weapons charges.

That prevents zero bail releases and keeps suspects in jail until they can have a court hearing. Salazar also reports there were no shootings in the southwest area in the past 48 hours.

Jones says he welcomes the partnership with police and hopes it's a step in the right direction.

He says, "Any time there's no structure, no law, no disciplinary actions behind what's going on, it's going to run amuck, and we don't want this city to turn into the wild wild west."

Police say overall shootings are up more than 100 percent compared to this time last year. They've also seen a recent increase of gang-related shootings in Northeast and Northwest Fresno.

The department has 127 officers assigned to the current suppression operation, and Salazar says they are working around the clock to try to get the violence under control.
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