Approximately 250 people attended tonight's highly anticipated organized by the city of Half Moon Bay and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office to provide concerned residents with more information about gangs and , as well as strategies on how to mobilize to prevent further activity in the city.
The meeting was convened in the wake of a that took place on August 14 on First Avenue and Grove Street in the Arleta Park neighborhood of Half Moon Bay. Though one man was shot in the chest and another in the foot, both survived. The Sheriff's Office has confirmed that the incident was between the rival Norteños and Sureños gangs.
Members of both gangs are known to live in Half Moon Bay.
, Capt. Mark Wyss, , and a full force of officers and deputies with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office spoke to those assembled about the current status of the shooting investigation, information about gangs and gang graffiti in Half Moon Bay, and how residents can mobilize to prevent further activity in the area.
The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, which has for Half Moon Bay since June 12, has dedicated four full-time detectives to investigate the incident, Sheriff Greg Munks said.
Lt. Williams, head of the Half Moon Bay substation, reported that the Sheriff's Office responded within two minutes of being dispatched to the scene of the incident with six patrol units, two K-9 (canine) units, one detective and one reserve officer.
Air support was also overhead in an effort to capture any suspects, Lt. Williams said.
"We have determined persons of interest in the case," Lt. Williams said, but added that the victims of the shooting have been uncooperative thus far.
Alfredo Gudino, a Sheriff's deputy with the School Resource Policing Unit, provided information about
- the definition of a gang
- an overview of gangs in the area
- gang symbols and signs as relates to tattoos, clothing, and graffiti
Deputy Gudino used photos of Half Moon Bay graffiti published first on Half Moon Bay Patch to explain gang shorthand and symbols, as well as how rival gangs use graffiti to communicate with each other.
The city and the Sheriff's Office said they will provide support for residents interested in organizing a neighborhood watch group to combat gang activity. Residents in the Arleta Park neighborhood to begin organizing their watch group.
Residents encountering graffiti on their property, Lt. Williams said, should remove it by painting over the entire area as soon as possible — not by patchwork — and only after documenting it on camera first. Residents will be fined for not removing the graffiti on their property after a particular time period, she said.
Lt. Williams encouraged residents to adhere to the following "4R's" on graffiti:
- Read - to determine what gangs or who is involved (gang monikers, threats, pending gang wars or the availability of drugs)
- Report - to law enforcement (San Mateo County Sheriff's Office/Half Moon Bay substation of the Sheriff's Office)
- Record - use still camera or video camera as documentation for law enforcement officials
- Remove - as soon as possible (ideally before it is discovered by other gang members)
Removing graffiti as soon as possible helps to contain gang activity, Sheriff's Office officials said.
Half Moon Bay City Manager Laura Snideman said that the city can provide paint for residents to cover graffiti on their property. The city's Graffiti Abatement Line is (650) 712-7310.
With the guidance of City Councilmember Rick Kowalczyk, local student Thomas Perkins has initiated a Half Moon Bay Graffiti Clean Up project to remove graffiti around the city a few times a year. The graffiti removal will be completed on a volunteer basis, Kowalczyk said, as Perkins' Eagle Scout project.
For the second hour of the two-hour meeting, city officials and Sheriff's Office personnel answered questions collected from the crowd. Half Moon Bay City Councilmember John Muller said that 50 questions had been submitted during the course of the evening.
Lt. Williams said that residents with information about the recent shooting or any incident they suspect could be gang-related should contact the Half Moon Bay substation of the Sheriff's Office at (650) 726-8288, or contact the anonymous tip line at 1-800-547-2700.
Come back to Half Moon Bay Patch soon for a series of reports with more information presented by the Sheriff's Office about gangs in the area, Q and A between residents and officials, and more photos from tonight's meeting.