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Woodbridge residents convene to discuss gang violence

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Posted: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 8:31 pm | Updated: 5:53 am, Thu May 3, 2012.

It was a full house on Wednesday night in Woodbridge as community members met with San Joaquin County Sheriff's deputies to discuss the sudden spike in gang-related crimes in their community.

Deputies Jocelyn Castillo and Chad Yourdon spoke to more than 200 people who packed the Woodbridge First Missionary Baptist Church on Woodbridge Road.

The main topic of the meeting was to address the gang violence in Lodi, which the deputies admitted has risen recently. In April, the sheriff's office received seven reports of gunshots fired. Three of those reports turned out to be actual gunfire.

Those incidents are under investigation.

Castillo and Yourdon went into detail about gang colors and gang clothes, and even detailed how gangs persist in the area.

"It's a revolving door," Yourdon said. "I have been here three years, and the people I dealt with then are no longer around. Instead, it is a whole new group of kids."

Yourdon added that gang activity occurs in Woodbridge primarily because of the bleed-over from Lodi. He said those involved in gangs in the area may not live in Woodbridge, and that a majority of the gang members they have dealt with were not from the area.

He said those who identify themselves as gang members most likely have close ties to other local cities, despite the fact that they hang out in the Woodbridge area.

Residents were primarily concerned about the Woodbridge Boys, a Norteño gang that does call Woodbridge its home.

Though the gang is small — only between 12 and 15 members, according to Yourdon — the residents still need to pay attention if the members start acting up.

"They like to play the role of a gang rather actually engage in gang activities," he said. "While there has been a rise recently, fortunately there have been no serious injuries or serious damage."

Castillo echoed Yourdon's sentiments.

"Listen to your gut," she said. "Keep calling. Keep letting us know."

Contact reporter Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com.

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