Menlo Park police were busy Wednesday investigating two unrelated shootings in close proximity in Menlo Park’s Belle Haven area, Cmdr. Dave Bertini said today. The first shooting occurred at 1:07 p.m. in the 400 block of Hamilton Avenue. A man was found suffering from a gunshot wound in front of his home. He was transferred to Stanford Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. A silver or gray Honda was reported fleeing the scene northbound on Hamilton Avenue with three suspects inside. Witnesses described one passenger as a Hispanic man about 25 years old wearing a beanie, according to police.
This incident is believed to be gang related, according to Menlo Park police spokeswoman Nicole Acker. Five hours later, a chaotic scene less than a mile away resulted in a victim shot, a police officer injured and a suspect behind bars on suspicion of attempted murder, Bertini said. Dozens of people were outside an apartment complex in the 1300 block of Willow Road, a frontage road lined with apartment buildings, when two men got into an argument around 6 p.m. Narcotics Enforcement Team officers in the Belle Haven area investigating the Hamilton Avenue shooting responded to the scene to diffuse a violent exchange between the two acquaintances, Bertini said.
“We received a call about a man with a gun and officers were there immediately,” Bertini said. Officers located the suspect, Jaime Romero, 21, who got into a struggle with an officer who was moderately injured, Bertini said. Romero was detained and the handgun was recovered. Minutes later, police located a victim who had been shot once “in the lower extremities,” allegedly by Romero, who had first threatened the 24-year-old victim with a baseball bat, Bertini said. The victim was transported to Stanford Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Romero, a man Bertini said his department has had contact with in the past, was transported to the San Mateo County jail on charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest. Police do not believe the incident is gang related. Bertini said that over the years, there has been a lot of violent crime in the Belle Haven area, but lately there has been a bit of a decrease. He said a federal sweep of criminals in the area last year has helped keep the streets a tad cleaner.
He added that a strong, crime-fighting relationship with East Palo Alto, Palo Alto and Menlo Park police departments has helped to reduce crime as well. “I think criminals know that just because they cross the street or the county line, doesn’t mean they’re going to be safe from capture,” Bertini said. Anyone with suspect information in the midday shooting should contact the Menlo Park Police Department.
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