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Lodi sees 5 drive-by shootings in August

Police are investigating, but no solid leads yet; crimes worry neighbors

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Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013 12:00 am

On Wednesday morning, another Lodi neighborhood was recovering from a drive-by shooting — the city’s third this week and fifth this month.

Residents living near the corner of Olive Court and South School Street awoke Tuesday night to a barrage of bullets that injured two people, including a woman who was struck in the chin by a stray bullet while two blocks away from the scene.

Like the other recent shootings, no arrests have been made. And as more shootings occur, police are finding trends that could identify possible connections.

But for people like John Lopez, Sierra Wright and Sierra’s 3-year-old daughter, who live two houses from Tuesday’s shooting, this string of violence has shattered their security.

“This is our neighborhood,” Wright said. “This is our livelihood. People let their kids run around the street until 9 p.m. because it’s a generally safe neighborhood. But to have people shooting people for no reason, that is extremely scary. It shakes me up. What if my daughter had been outside?”

Twenty-year-old Harland Kenyon was walking with a friend around 9:30 p.m. when a midsize SUV pulled alongside, Lodi Police Lt. Fernando Martinez said. A man in the passenger seat opened fire, got off five rounds and struck Kenyon once in the wrist, Martinez said.

Kenyon was treated at a local hospital and later released. The woman who was struck two blocks away only suffered minor injuries and even drove herself to a local hospital.

Lodi police investigators are still trying to determine whether the shooting was gang-related, Martinez said.

This week’s violence began Sunday night, when a passenger in a minivan fired several rounds at a man standing in a yard on the 700 block of South Washington Street, police said. The man wasn’t injured, but several bullets struck the home.

On Monday, a group of juveniles safely escaped an ambush near the intersection of Washington and Oak streets, police said.

Two suspects stepped out of a midsize SUV and opened fire on the group from across the street, according to witnesses. After firing several rounds, they got in the vehicle and sped away, police said.

Earlier this month, two more shootings occurred, including one on Aug. 3 where two men were shot and hospitalized. The men, who were brothers, sustained minor injuries, but have refused to cooperate with police, Lodi Police Detective Carlos Fuentes said.

Martinez said police are investigating all five shootings, and while no arrests have been made, they’ve identified developing trends.

In two shootings, including Tuesday night’s, witnesses said the suspects were driving a light-colored, midsize SUV. In two other shootings, witnesses said the suspects were driving a light-colored minivan.

“Some of the vehicles are similar,” Martinez said. “So we’re looking into whether the same two vehicles were involved and we’re looking into any possible gang connection.”

Martinez added that one shooting occurred in a Norteño neighborhood, one in a Sureño neighborhood and the rest in general locations.

“Usually (Lodi doesn’t) have a lot of drive-bys,” Martinez said. “These things go in cycles. We’ll have two or four in a month then we won’t have any for 10 months.”

Police have few other leads, but gang enforcement officers are patrolling the streets, trying to prevent another shooting.

And while several separate investigations continue, residents who live near the shootings have been left shaken and scared.

“It’s the first time this has happened on our street, and it’s freaking everybody out,” Wright said.

Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at krisa@lodinews.com.

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