By Eric Stevick Herald Writer
EVERETT — Police on Thursday made five arrests involving suspected gang members after a series of assaults in recent months in south Everett.
Some clashes involved baseball bats, knives and at least one hammer, according to court documents.
Police believe the fights pitted local members of rival gangs.
Since January, detectives have tracked increased gang-related graffiti and assaults, primarily in south Everett, officer Aaron Snell said.
“The Everett Police Department has investigated several recent incidences where the suspects are tied to gangs,” Snell said. “We are focusing on a strong approach consisting of awareness, intervention and enforcement.”
Thursday’s arrests included suspects ages 15 to 18. Three were booked into Denny Juvenile Justice Center; the other two were booked into the Snohomish County Jail.
Additional arrests are possible, Snell said.
Police have increased patrols in the affected neighborhoods, including W. Casino Road.
“We have dedicated resources and are working proactively to address criminal activity occurring in these neighborhoods to include increasing our visible patrols and community outreach” said Dan Templeman, deputy chief.
In April, a suspected gang member was assaulted in the 100 block of W. Casino Road. He was taken to the hospital for injuries to his head, body and legs.
Witnesses reported three or four men armed with baseball bats and a hammer struck him repeatedly while he was on the ground trying to protect himself.
Some witnesses and neighbors believe a May 3 shooting at the Horizon Elementary School playground was gang related. Police haven’t confirmed those suspicions.
“That is still under investigation,” Snell said.
The shooting sent a 15-year-old boy to the hospital.
In that case, police were told a small group of teenagers was playing basketball when a group of up to 20 late-teens came to the court. An argument turned physical and the teen who had been playing basketball was shot. Police detained a number of the late teens for questioning.
In addition to making arrests, police are using their code enforcement unit to document and track graffiti and then work with property owners to remove it as soon as possible.
Stopping gang crime is more than an enforcement issue, Snell said.
Part of the strategy is making neighborhoods aware of it and offering steps they can take to protect themselves and find help. Everett officers recently have been taking part in neighborhood meetings to talk about gang activity.
They’re also are working with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office to deal with gang graffiti that appears beyond city limits.
Police are trying to find activities that steer teens toward outreach programs, such as soccer and baseball camps with nominal fees.
“We’ve had tremendous support from the community, particularly those along Casino Road, who have been working for years to create safer neighborhoods in south Everett,” said Templeman.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org