FRESNO, California (KSEE) – It’s been a violent start to the new year in Fresno. The weekend brought back-to-back homicides: the second and third ones of the year.
The police department’s MAGEC team is reporting an uptick in gang violence and is now conducting gang operations.
While police don’t suspect gang activity in at least one of the homicides they said they want to use the operation to get ahead of the violence.
“At this time last year we didn’t have our first homicide until January 19th. So this is a big spike for us right in the beginning of the year. We just had in excess of an extra 20 shootings for 2019 than we did the previous year,” Lt. Larry Bowlan of the Fresno Police Department said.
The department is looking to curb the violence and get guns off the streets.
“West Fresno gangs have been real active, real violent recently,” Sgt. James Rossetti said.
MAGEC officers, like Rossetti, are hitting the so-called “hot spot” areas looking for known gang members.
“Basically target the gang members. Parole compliance searches, probation compliance searches,” Rossetti said.
Rossetti said one man they stopped was an active gang member, on probation after serving time for human trafficking. Rossetti said his team wants to make their presence known after the recent string of shootings.
“When do these sweeps immediately you’ll see a decrease in crime, you’ll see a decrease in violent crime,” he said.
Officers said they hope these operations help bring back a sense of security to the community.
“There are a lot of people out there with a lot of handguns and a lot of long guns that are just shooting regarding different types of disturbances, and we want to stop some of that violence,” Bowlan said.
The recent gang operation started last week. Police said they’ll be releasing arrest information when it wraps up next week.