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Unloading of 16 shots into store strikes nerve
Shoorting fears DSC 9896
A quilt shop in the Graviel Commercial Center had its two large windows shot out Friday night facing Lancaster Drive just east of North Main Street after a rival gang killing marked the spot last January. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

Sixteen shots fired into a business in the 100 block of Lancaster Avenue in North Manteca Friday night has made nearby residents fearful.

Manteca residents living as far away as Alpine Avenue to the east are on edge. Alpine Avenue is where one woman reported hearing the gunfire as she stood next to an open window in her bathroom.

The gunfire came at the end of a celebration of the 20th birthday of Carlos A. Gutierrez who was slain in the small shopping center complex by rival gang members back in January.

Gutierrez’s death came after an argument between two gangs in a pizza parlor at that location.  He had backed away from a fight and walked out of the business only to return 20 minutes later walking into a volley of gun fire.  Mortally wounded he ran in a southerly direction through the parking lot where he collapsed and died at the corner of the quilt shop.

Friday night’s small crowd gathered next to that same quilt shop and left a freshly painted white cross, candles, balloons and flowers to remember their fallen friend.

Three women voiced their fears Wednesday about the continuing shootings in and around their neighborhood including the Friday night incident with the sounds of gunfire reaching into their homes and disturbing the peace of their neighborhoods. 

 “When I heard the gunshots shortly after 9 p.m. Friday, I told my kids – 9 and 13 – to hurry up and get inside” her home north of Shasta School and two blocks from Louise Avenue.

Many law enforcement officers throughout California — including those that patrol the streets of Manteca — have voiced concerns about how Proposition 47 that voters passed last November has tied their hands.  Non-violent felonies have allowed criminals to be released from jail and put back onto the streets with county jails essentially having revolving doors.  Many of those released for non-violent crimes have a litany of serious offenses and past crimes on their records and are reintroduced to their old neighborhoods to swell the ranks of gangs and the overall criminal element.  In many other cases, where officers were once able to book someone into county jail, they are often given a simple citation to appear in court and are freed back on the street.

“It’s crazy – it’s non-stop, including the recent shooting into a garage on Alameda Street,” indicated the mother who did not want to be identified.  “I just want to encase my body into steel armor.”

Several women told the Bulletin they are concerned about shopping in the center south of the pizza parlor and quilt shop in the future since the area has had three shootings they know of in the past nine months. They complained that the firing of guns has become common place throughout Manteca.

One added, “I will not go to Save Mart or CVS. I used to go to the quilt store but I won’t go over there any more as well as to the UPS store.  We will go out of our way not to go in that direction. The neighbors feel the area is declining and that it is getting worse.  They are also concerned about crime happening between Main Street and the Shasta School area.”

A mother and housewife who also works professionally said she is so tired about the people who have been congregating in and around Shasta Park – adjacent to Shasta School – with the open drug dealings she claims to see every day. 

“I don’t walk my dog anymore and I don’t allow my kids to play in the park anymore,” she said.

One mom claimed that things have changed so much in the community and not for the better.  A move to Ripon is in her family’s future, she added.

“We have 61 active officers in Manteca, but the chief claims we have 66,” she said. “He believes crime has gone down despite all the gun shots in town and stolen cars.  Crime: it just disgusts me and how it is being handled,” she added.  “I know their resources are low, but if they want the city to grow they need to increase their resources.

A father of two teenage daughters said they ask to stay out until 1 and 2 a.m. with their friends but he insisted it is not safe after 11 – saying no to his girls who can’t imagine the threat to their safety.