Long Beach police have arrested 13 alleged gang members — including three juveniles — who are collectively accused of seven shootings that left 12 injured and two dead over the last three months, authorities said Friday, Feb. 14.
Five other victims escaped gunfire without injury, police said. The shootings took place from Nov. 21 to Feb. 4.
Included in the arrests were three teenage gang members, with two arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder while the third was taken into custody on suspicion of attempted murder, Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said during a late-morning press conference.
During the serving of search warrants at 24 locations, the three minors were arrested: A 16-year-old and two 17-year-olds, all boys, were in jail without the possibility of bail, the chief said. All three were on probation and had long criminal histories.
Luna made the announcement while standing between two photos of the suspects with pixilated faces holding firearms and throwing up gang signs. Those photos had been posted on social media, he said.
While social media posts helped identify the suspects, police already had other evidence linking them to the crimes, police spokeswoman Arantxa Chavarria said.
“It is unacceptable that we have 16- and 17-year-olds from our community who are being recruited into the gang lifestyle and choosing to terrorize, injure and end the lives of others,” Luna said.
He added that the announcement of the arrests was a reminder to the public that if they see anything suspicious on social media, or hear anything involving threats or violence, to report it to police.
“If somebody, just one person, would have come forward to say, ‘I saw this on social media, let me bring this to you,’ our officers may have been able to jump on this even sooner and prevent some of these tragedies from occurring,” Luna said.
The shootings included the slayings of 36-year-old Jaime Ruiz on Nov. 22, and 32-year-old Bradley Meas on Dec. 29, police said. Both were Long Beach residents.
The suspects targeted rival gang members and associates, but said some of the victims were unintended targets caught in the crossfire.
During the searches, police found five handguns and at least one rifle, three pounds of methamphetamine and an undisclosed amount of cash, Luna said.
Police did not specify as to what extent, if any, the 10 adult suspects were involved in the shootings.
The searches were conducted in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Norwalk and Paramount. They included parole- and probation-compliance checks and inmate-cell searches in various state prisons as well as two at Los Angeles County jails, police said.
Luna thanked courageous community members who came forward and provided critical information, which helped lead to the arrests. The investigation was continuing and officials did not ruled out the possibility that the suspects could be linked to more incidents, the chief said.
“We’re still gathering evidence and conducting interviews and as this is going on, hopefully we’ll be getting a lot more information,” Luna said. “We want to prevent these kids of acts in the future.”
The Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles County Probation Department, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation assisted in the searches.
• Nov. 21, 10:10 p.m. Three men and two women, all homeless, are shot in the legs or feet while in an alley behind a residence in the 1100 block of East 10th Street.
• Nov. 22, 10:55 p.m. Ruiz is shot while standing behind a residence in the 1500 block of Magnolia Avenue and dies. Two others with him escape injury.
• Dec. 19, 12:10 p.m. A man suffers a gunshot wound to his lower body after being shot at by three male suspects in the 1300 block of East Anaheim Street.
• Dec. 29, 5:35 p.m. Meas is shot in front of an apartment complex in the 2300 block of East 14th Street and dies. Another man is injured by gunshot. Three others escaped injury. Two male suspects had approached them.
• Jan. 5, 8:15 p.m. A woman is shot in the lower body after confronted by male suspects while standing in an alley behind a home in the 2100 block of Locust Street.
• Feb. 2, 1:10 a.m. A man and a girl are shot in the lower body by male suspects who had attempted to rob them while they walked in the 900 block of Park Circle.
• Feb. 4, 7 p.m. A teenage boy is shot in the upper body while in the area of the 900 block of Main Avenue.