Gang Shooting Puts Neighborhood On Edge

Cesar Ortiz, 16, Shooting Victim
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RENO, NV - On a side walk just east of Reno's Wells Avenue an informal memorial has grown near the spot where 16 year old Cesar Ortiz died last Friday.

Candles, balloons, personal items and messages left by people in this neighborhood who apparently knew him and his family. At the center a picture of the young victim, fresh faced, looking younger than his years.

Some in the neighborhood drop a dollar or two in a collection box, their donation to a family which lacks the money to bury their son.

Elsewhere in town it's likely this is noted as just the latest incident of gang related violence, but It's something people here are living with.

No one knows this better than the shootings other victim, an 18 year old man who was standing near Ortiz. One of the bullets grazed his scalp.

"It didn't just effect our family," he says. "It affected the whole neighborhood, that's us as a neighborhood being close with each other, knowing each other, waking every day (saying) "Hey, how are you doing?"

At his request we're not showing his face or identifying him. He tells us he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"I don't gang bang. I'm not a gangster."

The people who fired those shots remain at large. Police say they are following leads, the best so far are eyewitness descriptions of the shooter's car.

"We are of the opinion that the car they are describing is an Audi," says Reno Police spokesman Lt. Mohammed Rafaqat, "a dark colored Audi. It had multiple occupants in it."

Rafaqat says this shooting and the one Sunday a few blocks away were both gang related. Reasons remain unknown. Rafaqat says there was nothing on the gang unit's radar warning of violence.

While the search for suspects in the homicide continues, there's been progress on Sunday's shooting. Monday night police arrested 29 year old Ruben Rubalcava Carillo. Other arrests may be pending.

These cases can be tough. Those who have information are typically reluctant to come forward, but Rafaqat says people can help by being vigilant.

The slightest dispute he says can escalate into a serious incident.

"If you see something developing certainly make yourself safe, give us a call, be a good witness," he says. "We'll respond. We already have a heavy presence in the area."

In the meantime, a family mourns, a neighborhood worries and the victim asks for reason and peace.

"People ought to start waking up and realize what's going on around them. We can't change the world, if we can't change ourselves."

Anyone with information is asked to call the Reno Police or Secret Witness at 322-4900. The crime fighting organization has posted a $2500 reward for information leading to arrest and prosecution.