Salinas is a city reeling from a recent spate of bloodshed as another person was killed on Thursday, the fourth homicide there in a span of only nine days, a police spokesman said today. Three of the homicides were part of a “rash of violence” investigators believe is related to gang activity in Salinas, police Sgt. Jeffrey Gibson said. The latest murder was not gang-related and took place during the attempted robbery of a 99-cent store in Salinas, Gibson said.
Police were dispatched to the store at 102 E. Laurel Drive at 5:11 p.m. Thursday on a report of a man stabbing a store employee, Gibson said. An officer reached the store and witnessed the suspect, Richard Gutierrez, 22, running out the front door, Gibson said. The officer quickly took Gutierrez into custody on suspicion of homicide and attempted robbery, Gibson said. The suspect had been seen coming in and out of the store several times, then stood in a checkout aisle and grabbed an employee. During a struggle, he allegedly stabbed the employee multiple times, Gibson said.
Patrons tried to subdue Gutierrez by throwing canned goods at him, but he ran out of the store and then encountered the responding officer, Gibson said. The employee was taken to a hospital where he died of his injuries. Police today were still in the process of notifying the victim’s family members and were not yet releasing his name, Gibson said. The homicide comes after a spate of suspected gang-related deaths, the most recent of which occurred shortly before 4 p.m. Monday when a 60-year-old man was hit multiple times from gunshots from a semi-automatic rifle inside a house in the 200 block of Osage Drive. The man, a carpenter who did not live at the house, was doing work at the home when he was shot.
Two Hispanic males were reportedly seen running from the scene and police believe the crime was gang-related, Gibson said. On Sunday, police responded to a call at 7:55 a.m. at the Willow Lodge motel at 719 S. Main St. about a gunshot, explosion and possible fire in one of the rooms. Police and firefighters arrived and found a small fire inside the room and evidence of an explosion. Officers also located the body of a woman who had been shot to death.
Police suspect that death was also the result of gang activity, Gibson said. On July 24, police got a report at 10:26 p.m. of a shooting victim near the intersection of Sieber and Orchard avenues. A 15-year-old boy who had been shot multiple times was pronounced dead at the scene. Police also consider the homicide as gang-related, Gibson said. A gray Honda Accord car was seen driving away from the scene of the shooting, police said.
Along with the gang violence, a 30-year-old man was shot and killed on July 26 by nine members of a police task force after he fired a shot and then pointed two guns at an officer. Juan Louis Acuna, 30, of Salinas, a wanted parolee with past gang affiliations, was killed in the officer-involved shooting, which happened at about 6 p.m. near Ivy and East Market streets.
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