Gang Activity Expected to Rise With Temps

Reno Police Department
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Investigators want to know who fired five shots in the parking lot of a local church Monday night.

None of the 200-300 people at the prayer service was hurt, but the Reno Police Gang Unit says it was a drive-by shooting involving at least one local gang.

This latest spate of gang violence comes just a month before the Reno Police Department releases its annual "Report on the Status of Gangs."

Now the search for the suspects continues, as investigators tell us their crackdown on gangs is gaining momentum.

The Little Flower Church shows no signs of Monday night's drive-by shooting with the bullet-pierced window repaired, and business back to normal.

But nearby, neighbors are still shaken from the violence.

"it's too close to home. This is two doors down," says neighbor John Crow.

"I heard the shots and I was on the floor by the time the fifth one hit," says Crows' wife, Natalie. "I waited and jumped up and closed the blinds and windows."

Reno Gang Unit officers say gang violence is actually on the decline from its peak in 1995. Last week they arrested several teen gang members suspected of rape and a report of gang crime over the past 12 months shows one homicide. The number of gang members is also down 1.5 percent.

They say gang activity in Washoe County is average compared to other cities. "Between 20-30 active gangs in Washoe County. Of that 10 to 20 have lots of members, of that 5-10 are very active," says Sgt. Gerald Rhodes.

Police say gang activity has also changed a lot over the past decade--while some neighborhoods were hotbeds for gang violence, now police say that has been diluted.

Rhodes says: "i've seen it getting better in the last ten years - less gangs but it seems like there's more violence. Our gang members are spread out through Washoe County and Northern Nevada."

To deal with the dispersion, authorities from Reno, Sparks and the Washoe Co. Sheriff's office have teamed up, along with school authorities.

They say gang crime will never be stamped out completely, but it can be controlled.

Getting back to Monday's shooting - police say they have solid leads because there were several witnesses to the shootings.

If you know anything about the drive-by, give police a call at Secret Witness--322-4900.