– A 16-year-old Salinas boy was killed after rival gang members
shot him during a car chase Friday night on Chappell Road in
Hollister, police said.
Hollister – A 16-year-old Salinas boy was killed after rival gang members shot him during a car chase Friday night on Chappell Road in Hollister, police said.

Angel Romero, a suspected member of the Sureño criminal street gang in Salinas, died Saturday at a Bay Area hospital from gunshot wounds to his back and elbow, said Officer Rosie Betanio, a spokeswoman for the Hollister Police Department. Pedro Serrano Vasquez, a 26-year-old Salinas resident, was also found shot in the same car as Romero.

It is the city’s first gang-related homicide of 2007 and second within the past year.

Authorities believe three male and two female Norteño gang members driving a light-colored Lincoln sedan were involved in the shooting.

The Hollister Police Department declined to comment Monday on identities of the car’s suspected occupants.

“We’re actively pursuing the case and following up (on) leads,” Police Chief Jeff Miller said.

At about 8:40pm Friday, officers responded to a call of gunshots in the area of Maple and Rustic streets.

Officers found Romero, along with Vasquez and two other 16-year-olds, in a Honda Accord at the intersection of San Felipe Road and Highway 156, Betanio said. Vasquez was shot in the hand and foot.

Someone had reported seeing the car on the roadside, Betanio said.

The victims told investigators that Norteños in a Lincoln sedan began following them, eventually firing into the vehicle, police said.

Upon further investigation, authorities found bullet shells – from a high-powered, automatic rifle – in the 300 block of Chappell Road, Betanio said.

The homicide is the latest in a string of gang-related violence this year.

Since late January, there have been five gang-related drive-by shootings and two gang-related attempted murders, according to police records.

Miller said the spat of gang violence is a cause for concern.

“I’m angry that it happened,” Miller said. “I’m frustrated that we don’t have the resources we need to take more appropriate actions on the gang problem.”

Betanio said gang-related violence often is followed with retaliation, but when and where remains to be seen.

“There were some out-of-towners, so it might be back in Salinas,” Betanio said.

It also was the city’s second homicide in 2007, and fourth in the past 12 months.

On March 13, Elizabeth Esther Gomez, a 31-year-old Hollister resident, was strangled and stabbed to death in her apartment bedroom.

Samuel Ethan Turner, a 25-year-old San Jose man, was arrested in connection with her murder.

In 2006, there were two homicides in the city, including what authorities believe was the gang-related murder of 18-year-old Daniel Gallegos.

The district attorney’s office has charged suspected Sureño Hollister residents Emilio Roman, 18, and Gonzalo Munguia, 19, with Gallegos’ murder. Munguia’s charge carries a gang-related special allegation that makes him eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

Catherine Lara, Gallegos’ mother, has maintained her son was not in a gang.

Rachael Marie Menchaca, 27, is set to stand trial for the murder of her 9-month-old daughter. Authorities believe the girl ingested a methadone pill while in Menchaca’s care in August 2006.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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