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Man wounded in south Santa Rosa shooting


A 22-year-old Santa Rosa man was shot in the face late Thursday night on Moorland Avenue in what sheriff’s officials described as a gang-related incident. It marked the second reported shooting in a span of three days in the troubled neighborhood on the southwestern outskirts of Santa Rosa.

The victim, who was not identified, was struck once in the face, said Sonoma County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Shannon McAlvain, who heads the sheriff’s Violent Crimes Investigation Unit. He was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where he was in stable condition, McAlvain said.

Authorities had not identified any suspects by Friday evening.

“We only have the one side of the incident. We only have the victim,” McAlvain said. “But we are investigating this as a gang-related incident.”

Residents reported hearing gunfire on the 3200 block of Moorland Avenue, near Eddy Drive, just before 11 p.m., according to the Sheriff’s Office. When they arrived at the scene, deputies said they found a man who had been shot and injured in the face.

Resident Juan Jimenez said he was lying in bed with his wife, watching TV, when he heard blasts coming from across the street.

“I heard three shots,” Jimenez said.

It was the second shooting in three days on the same street, and McAlvain said detectives were investigating whether the two shootings were related.

“We are looking into that to see if there is any connection,” he said, adding that the Sheriff’s Office is seeking witnesses in both shootings. “We are asking anyone who might have seen anything to contact us. We think there was one shooter but that hasn’t yet been determined.”

McAlvain said there were witnesses to Thursday’s shooting, but they weren’t able to provide much information.

On Tuesday, residents called law enforcement after hearing gunfire erupt in the area. One caller reported seeing five teens flee the area on Moorland Avenue between Thistle Lane and Gio Drive, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Deputies said at least three of them were wearing blue bandannas that partially covered their faces. They searched numerous homes but found no one injured or a sign of the group.

Gangs typically use colors to show their affiliation. In Santa Rosa, wearing blue can be a sign of affiliation with a sureño gang. The area where the shooting occurred is known to be claimed by sureño gang members, police said.

Fences and sidewalks at the intersection of Moorland Avenue and Thistle Lane near where Jimenez lives were covered with blue graffiti, which appeared to be gang-related messages.

The Moorland area sits just outside the city boundaries of Santa Rosa, in an unincorporated area of Sonoma County plagued by gang activity. It’s also the same neighborhood where sheriff’s Deputy Erick Gelhaus shot and killed 13-year-old Andy Lopez on Oct. 22 after reportedly mistaking the BB gun the boy was carrying for an assault rifle it was designed to resemble.

In recent weeks, Santa Rosa police officers and deputies found bullet holes in cars, homes and trees. Shell casings were left behind in several area neighborhoods. But no shooters were found.

A block north from the site of this week’s shootings, bullets pierced the front door of a home on Eddy Road on June 22. Earlier that month, shots were fired at people standing outside of a Barbara Drive home.

Jimenez has lived in the Moorland neighborhood for nearly 15 years. Despite the recent wave of gunfire, he said he’s not concerned.

“He who is not guilty has nothing to fear,” he said, quoting a Spanish-language proverb.

“I haven’t had problems with anyone,” he said.

The incidents come just as the city of Santa Rosa is gearing up for its Gang Prevention Awareness Week that begins the first week of August. Several events are planned in the West Ninth Street neighborhood, more than three miles north of the Moorland Avenue block where the shooting this week occurred. The events include a nighttime march, a daytime talent show at Jacobs Park and community meetings and seminars.

“It feels like a setback,” said Rafael Rivero, community outreach specialist for Santa Rosa’s gang prevention team. “But at the same time, I think it will invigorate the community to continue this effort to promote a positive message. We have to keep fighting because when people get involved, it gives everyone hope.”

You can reach Staff Writers Eloísa Ruano González at 521-5458 or eloisa.gonzalez@pressdemocrat.com and Elizabeth M. Cosin at 521-5276 or elizabeth.cosin@pressdemocrat.com.