East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis today called the shooting of five people at a bus stop on Sunday afternoon “a cowardly act” and vowed to find those responsible. “We are going to hold them accountable,” Davis said. “We are going to do everything possible to put them behind bars.” Two people in a sliver or gray-green sedan drove by the bus stop near a McDonald’s restaurant at Bay Road and University Avenue at about 2:45 p.m., Davis said. At least one person inside the vehicle opened fire and shot five people waiting at the bus stop, including a grandmother who was there with her six-year-old granddaughter, Davis said. The girl was not shot, but injured herself as she fell to avoid the spray of bullets, he said. The five people who were shot suffered bullet wounds in their legs and lower extremities, he said. All of the victims were expected to survive.
As many as four of the victims were suspected of having gang affiliations, and the shooting was believed to be gang-related, Davis said. “The shooting was absolutely targeted,” he said. “It was not random.” The police chief sought to reassure the community by pledging to commit law enforcement resources and manpower toward targeting the suspected gangs that were involved in the shooting. Davis declined to name the suspected gangs, but said the Police Department’s effort to target their activities and social networks would “ramp up significantly” in the coming months. According to recent statistics, shootings have been on the rise in East Palo Alto from a low of around 40 incidents in 2010, Davis said. “This increase is starting to concern us greatly,” Davis said. “We’ve made too much progress to move backwards.”
A 30-year-old man was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting in the 2100 block of Cooley Avenue on Saturday night. No one was arrested, and the victim was expected to survive, police said. There was no immediate indication that the two weekend shootings were related. Davis said that part of the community’s response to Sunday afternoon’s shooting will be modeled on a countywide crackdown on the activities of the “Taliban” and “DaVill” gangs that was launched in November 2012. That effort, also known as Operation SMART or Strategic Multi-Agency Response Team, has so far been successful in preventing and decreasing the violence and criminal activities associated with both gangs, Davis said. Davis said that a combination of law enforcement, faith-based intervention and community services will be employed to combat the recent spate of violence. “We cannot have a community where a grandmother can’t get on a bus with her granddaughter,” he said.
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