Yakima police work to curb teen gang violence
Last month, four teens were shot in gang-related shootings in just five days
YAKIMA, Wash. — Yakima police are investigating a series of gang-related shootings last month that sent four teenagers to the hospital over a period of five days.
“We’re trying to determining who’s committing these violent crimes and get them off the street as quickly as possible before they injure or kill somebody and most likely an innocent person,” Capt. Jay Seely said.
Police believe most of the incidents are unrelated and cannot point to why the incidents happened in such quick succession.
“It’s very cyclic: it comes and it goes,” Seely said. “Hopefully, if we put the right people in jail, we’ll see a downturn in the gang violence.”
Gang-related shootings injure four teens in less than a week
No arrests have been made in connection with two gang-related shootings Feb. 16 that sent a 16-year-old boy and 17-year-old boy to the hospital. Police do not believe the two incidents were related to each other or to the shootings that happened several days later.
“This is just the outcome of criminal gangs and their criminal enterprise and this is what they do,” Seely said. “This is why we don’t want them on the street.”
On Wednesday, a group of teens were driving around in a car that had been reported stolen the previous day when one of them shot a 16-year-old boy outside of Garfield Elementary School, near North Sixth and Fairbanks avenues.
“They shot at someone they knew that one of the kids in the car had previous altercations with,” Seely said.
The suspects eventually led officers on a high speed chase that ended with the teens crashing into a school bus near South 7th Avenue and West Walnut Street.
Police said four teens were inside the car and were taken into custody for questioning. Investigators reportedly also found a gun in the stolen car.
“Two of the four were arrested and we’re working on probable cause for the third juvenile male that was in the car,” Seely said.
Several hours later, a 19-year-old was shot near Kiwanis Park in what police believe was a related incident.
“The one at Kiwanis was in retaliation for the one at Garfield,” Seely said.
Yakima police working to fix the problem
One of the small-scale ways officers are using to make a difference is eradicating gang-related graffiti throughout the city. Police officers are encouraging community members to report gang graffiti immediately so officers can get rid of it as soon as possible.
“We want them to report that because we gather information about gang graffiti … the writing, what names they’re putting up,” Seely said. “It helps us determine what resources we’re going to utilize and where we’re going to put them.”
Yakima police officers are also working on a long-term, federally funded focused deterrence program to address the problem on a larger scale. Working with Project Safe Neighborhoods, the department is using crime statistics to predict and prevent gang violence, identify at-risk juveniles and work with local partners to get them help.
“We’re working very closely with civilian counterparts at Madison House and working with some of our counselors,” Seely said. “We’re working with people that can help these gang members choose a different path other than a gang lifestyle.”
Gang-related violence involving teens, kids in recent years
Within just the Yakima city limits, there’s been numerous gang-related shootings, stabbings and homicides involving teens in the past five years, including:
- A 19-year-old was injured in a gang-related shooting Feb. 24, 2021 near Kiwanis Park in what police believe was retaliation for another shooting earlier that day.
- A 16-year-old boy was injured in a gang-related shooting Feb. 24, 2021 outside Garfield Elementary School, near North Sixth and Fairbanks avenues. Two teens have been arrested in connection with the shooting.
- A 17-year-old boy was injured in a gang-related shooting on Feb. 16, 2021 at a house in the 100 block of North 18th Avenue.
- A 16-year-old boy was injured in a gang-related shooting on Feb. 16, 2021 near West Nob Hill Boulevard and South Fifth Avenue.
- A 15-year-old, 19-year-old and 20-year-old — all siblings — were arrested in connection with a gang-related shootout Nov. 20, 2020 outside Hy’s Market hat left a 30-year-old man dead.
- An 11-year-old girl was injured in a gang-related shooting on Sept. 16, 2020 at a home near South 12th Avenue and West King Street.
- Charlie Taylor, 14, was killed in a gang-related shooting on Sept. 14, 2020 at a home on Willow Street, between North Sixth Avenue and North Ninth Avenue. A 17-year-old was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in connection with Taylor’s death.
- A 9-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy were injured in a gang-related, drive-by shooting July 7, 2020 outside a home near South Eighth Avenue and West Viola Avenue. This was the same 11-year-old boy injured in a gang-related, drive-by shooting on July 4, 2020 at the same address.
- An 11-year-old boy was injured in a gang-related shooting on July 4, 2020 outside a home near South Eighth Avenue and West Viola Avenue.
- A 17-year-old boy was injured in a gang-related shooting on May 29, 2020 outside a 7-11 convenience store near East Chestnut Avenue and South 10th Street.
- A 16-year-old boy was injured in a gang-related shooting on Dec. 30, 2019 near Queen Avenue and West MacLaren Street.
- Two 17-year-old boys were arrested in connection with a gang-related, drive-by shooting on Nov. 3, 2019 at the Domino’s at 6 Union St. No one was injured.
- An 18-year-old man and 21-year-old man were injured in a gang-related shooting on Halloween last year near South 10th Avenue and West Walnut Street.
- A 15-year-old Yakima boy was arrested in connection with the gang-related fatal stabbing of 16-year-old David Reyes, Jr. on July 6, 2019 at the Macy’s in Union Gap. The Yakima County prosecutor’s office declined to file charges against the 15-year-old, saying he had acted in self-defense.
- David Martinez, 16, was fatally shot in a gang-related shooting on April 21, 2019 — Easter Sunday — near 18th Street and Sliger Road. Police later arrested then-20-year-old Nathaniel Garcia in connection with the killing.
- Lillyonna Rose Beaty, 15, was fatally shot in a gang-related shooting on March 17, 2019. Then-17-year-old Benicio Xavier Lopez* was arrested and charged with murder in connection with the killing. *KAPP-KVEW is naming Lopez because he has been charged in Yakima County Superior Court and is now over the age of 18.
- Kabin Smith, 14, was fatally shot in a drive-by, gang-related shooting on April 24, 2017. Since then, three suspects have been identified as being involved with the killing: then-23-year-old Luiz Barrera, then-17-year-old Pedro Antonio Solis and then-19-year-old Jeremiah Luciano Peralez.
- Napoleon Prado, Jr., 17, was fatally shot in a gang-related shooting on Oct. 24, 2017 near South Seventh and East Spruce streets. Police arrested then-15-year-old Luis Medina Beltran in connection with the killing. A court appearance by Beltran on Jan. 17, 2018 sparked a series of violent, gang-related incidents across the city — including one where another teen shot at a police officer.
- Antonio Esteban-Olguin, 19, was fatally shot in a gang-related shooting on April 10, 2016 near South 17th and West Chestnut avenues. Police arrested then-16-year-old Angel Oliveras and then-22-year-old Damian Iniguez in connection with the killing. The case was later dismissed after a key witness refused to cooperate with police.
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