Fresno Police are sweeping the streets of downtown trying to get rid of a crime-ridden homeless encampment. It encompasses a two-block radius near Santa Clara and E Street.
The history of lawsuits between the city and the homeless has made officers reluctant to go after the people in these camps. But because of a recent murder, the door is now open for police to clean up this mess.
Tuesday evening, Fresno Police officers saturated the downtown homeless encampment near the Poverello House.
The area is a health hazard. Piles of trash make it look more like a landfill than a place you would want to live, but plenty of people choose to make this their home. The problem is that gangs have now invaded this site to conduct their illegal business.
“It's become a magnet for criminal activity of all sorts. From prostitution to drug use to drug sales,” said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.
Rival gangsters are competing for drug sales, which has translated into violence. Police say there have been five shootings here in the last six months. One left a man paralyzed and on July 5th, 20-year old Jordan Mullin was shot and killed. Investigators arrested 52-year old Randy Little and 35-year old Raymond Snowden for his murder.
“We have no indication that Little and Snowden were associates or acquainted. It just happens that both fired at the same time at this encampment,” said Chief Dyer.
An operation is now in place which orders officers to pass through here several times a day. In the last seven days they've made 47 felony arrests, 61 misdemeanor arrests and impounded 50 vehicles. Police also seized an AK-47 and a 22-caliber rifle from a nearby apartment.
“Both of those guns were purchased the night before from individuals at this encampment,” said Chief Dyer.
Results like this are why Chief Dyer intends to keep the pressure on at this location.
“We have seen far too much violence and far too much criminal activity and enough is enough. We are making a commitment to put an end to it,” said Chief Dyer.
Once police build enough cases showing all of the crime happening at this encampment, the city should have the power to break it up and kick the people out.
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