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Man, 20, clinging to life

Toddler airlifted to UC Davis; 5 shot at barbecue party

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Man, 20, clinging to life

Five people attending a barbecue in the 400 block of Willow Avenue were shot Wednesday night.

RYAN BALBUENA/The Bulletin


POSTED June 7, 2012 1:37 a.m.

A 20-year-old male is clinging to life and a 3-year-old girl in serious but stable condition after a shooting erupted Wednesday night in the 400 block of Willow Avenue leaving five people with bullet wounds.

Manteca Police believe the shots came from the alley behind the residence. According to Manteca Police Lieutenant Tony Souza, a barbecue was taking place at the time the incident occurred at 9:04 p.m. Nearby Southside Park was used as a landing pad for the Medi-Flight helicopter that transported the young girl to UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

One of the victims that sustained non life-threatening injuries was a pregnant female.

“We don’t believe that this was a gang-involved shooting at this time,” Souza said. “We have all of our investigators on scene right now working to find out exactly what happened and we have evidence teams on the way as well.”

Some patrol officers that responded to the emergency 911 calls were carrying department-issued AR-15 assault rifles when they approached the residence. None of the suspects were at the scene, and details about who might be responsible for the violence are sketchy.

What appeared to be a normally quiet residential street looked upended by the explosion of violence that drew neighbors out into their front yards to confer about what they had seen and heard and watch the rest of the scene unfold. Detectives that were called in to investigate were busy talking to family members and those present at the house when the shooting broke out.

A neighbor that asked not to be identified said he was taking out the trash in his backyard when he heard shots ring out – prompting him to run inside and gather up his children while the shooting continued nearby.

“I grabbed a shotgun because when I looked out front all I could see was people scattering – I didn’t know who was who and I was just trying to protect my family,” he said. “I could look out my kid’s window and see the 8th grade girl that was shot in the shoulder laying there on the ground.”

Souza said as many as 15 shots were fired during the volley.

The 3-year-old that was struck in the shoulder had her condition upgraded from serious to stable as the night wore on while the 20-year-old male that was struck in the upper abdomen was still clinging to life at a nearby trauma center.

Two others were taken to Kaiser Permanente and according to one witness, one of the victims that was shot in the leg was bandaged up on the scene and didn’t seek further medical treatment.

Kaiser at one point put the hospital on lockdown and tightened security as a precautionary measure.

A shooting on Tuesday night less than a mile from the scene left a 30-year-old man in critical condition. Police officers that responded to a call of a shooting on Virginia Street found the conscious man down on the sidewalk with multiple gunshot wounds, and by Wednesday morning his condition had worsened.

The  two shootings are in the greater Southside Park neighborhood. Five years ago, gun fire became as frequent as every other night as the temperatures climbed in early summer. Law-abiding families were afraid to use Southside Park that had just been renovated. Community outrage prompted Manteca Police to respond with a multiple facet response that included using code enforcement , warrant sweeps, and community engagement using church groups and non-profits serving youth in a bid to stem the tide of violence. Several illegals - including one man in his 50s who was thought to be a gang leader - were rounded up and turned over to the immigration authorities and deported.

The effort turned the tide at the time. Manteca Police and city officials that year had a National Night Out  community-wide gathering at Southside  Park to make it clear that there would be a zero tolerance when it came to gang violence and that the police were there to help.

Similar joint-efforts were effective in other areas in Manteca where gang problems flared up including along north of Northgate Drive and west of Crestwood Avenue.

Gang violence, as police have point out, is not just restricted to Southside Park but has cropped up even in newer neighborhoods.

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