The Main Stream

Feb 24, 2010 6:16 AM

Police battle gangs in Tucson

TUCSON - There are roughly 52 hundred gang members in Tucson that belong to 100 different gangs in Tucson.

Tucson police tell us of their four homicides this year, three of which had gang ties.

Just after midnight on January 1st, 24 year old Manuel Nunley is shot and killed. Police say he was wanted for a home invasion. The alleged killer turned himself in.

Detective Dave Miller says "The gang members in Tucson are violent. When I say violent they have access to a lot of weapons."
16 hours later Hector Garcia is gunned down, witnesses say rival gang members showed up at a house party and flashed gang signs.
That suspect also turned himself in. TPD says the two shootings are not related.
Detective Miller says "They want respect and they usually gang that through violence and intimidation."

Two weeks later at the hideout saloon, Matthew Vital is shot in the head in the parking lot. Police say he was trying to stop a fight.

Officer Mike Johnson works with the Gang Tactical Unit, and helped catch the gunman.

"There are gang members, they do commit crimes, and that's what our unit is out here to curtail, slow or stop if we can."

Three gang related homicides, three arrests.

Does Tucson have a gang problem? Lt. JT turner says "I think it's fair to say we have a considerable gang presence in the city of Tucson, but I don't believe we have a gang problem."

Lt. Turner says their gang unit was formed in 1979 before street gangs were considered a problem. In 2007 the unit expanded to keep gang violence down. They now host weekly gang intelligence meetings with other agencies, where they share information.

"We have a lot of intelligence contacts and informants and we are in most cases able to I-D suspects and clear cases like this within the first day or so."

So the question is "Is Tucson safe?" His reply, "Yes, I believe Tucson is safe."

Since January 19th, there have been no gang related homicides in the city.


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