Two juveniles, one 17 and one 13, were shot on a street corner after a green car pulled up to where the boys were standing, exchanged words with them, and then opened fire.
The boys were wounded, but survived. The shooters fled the scene. This sounds like a classic gang “hit-up”. It goes something like this: Car pulls up in “enemy” territory, window rolls down.
SHOOTER: “Where you from?”
VICTIM: “I ain’t from anywhere”
SHOOTER: “F___ YOU!” (shout name of own gang-fire weapon-drive off)
Very likely then, this is a case of a young gangster earning his stripes for his gang. A drive-by comes in many forms. The police and the DA treat most people charged with gang crimes as all the same. That is a mistake. Many of the people involved with gangs know each other from the neighborhood where they grew up. Many join the gang because to avoid doing so means getting beaten up repeatedly, or worse.
Gang police officers spend a lot of time making contact with kids in tough neighborhoods. They document their contacts through “F.I.”, or field interview, cards, recording date and time of contact, nature of the contact and any statements or admissions by the suspected gang member. After a few contacts the alleged member will get “stepped”, meaning the police will advise him that in their opinion he is a gang member and could be charged with a variety of crimes that are gang-related, in the future. These FI cards and STEP notices are used by the DA in their prosecution of suspected gang members.
An experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney who handles gang cases will look to distinguish his client from the gang and look to see if law enforcement had already decided that the suspect was a gang member even before the incident, thus carrying a bias against that person.
In Orange County, whether in Fullerton, Westminster, Garden Grove, Santa Ana or Tustin, a conviction for conduct such as this can sometimes carry a life term in prison.
If you know of someone who has been charged with committing a crime for the benefit of a criminal street gang, call Orange County criminal attorney William Weinberg in Orange at 714.834.1400 or in Irvine at 949.474.8008 for a consultation.