RICHMOND (KCBS) – A long-simmering feud between two local gangs appeared to be heating up, prompting police to double up on staffing to make certain it doesn’t boil over during the weekend.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

Last Sunday, Joshua McClain, 23, was shot and killed in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood. Police say McClain was a member of the Deep C gang in Richmond’s Iron Triangle neighborhood.


Days later, Ervin Coley, 21, and Jerry Owens, 22, were murdered in separate shootings in unincorporated North Richmond. A gang known as Project Trojan has laid claim to unincorporated North Richmond, and authorities say Deep C has long been at odds with Project Trojan.


In short, the shootings caught the attention of police.


“The homicide in San Francisco as well as the violence in North Richmond is causing tension,” warned Richmond Police Department Capt. Mark Gagen. “And there’s a real potential for retaliation.”


Gagen described a proactive approach by law enforcement, explaining that authorities have been keeping their ears to the ground – and the buzz they’re getting is someone has stirred up a hornet’s nest.


“We’re being told, through the officers in neighborhood safety, through officers who are working the streets, through community activists, and it’s allowed us and prompted us to put more officers and other resources on the street,” he explained. “This really was not in place several years ago. We would know that we’re seeing an increase in shootings, we’d know that we were having a feud but we wouldn’t really have our finger on the pulse of what’s going on.”


Gagen added that the hope was to prevent more violent outbursts until cooler heads can prevail.


“It’s prudent to be aware of the crime trends, not just in your city or in just your jurisdiction but rather in the region,” said Gagen. “And for the San Francisco Bay Area that means a homicide that happens on a Saturday night South of Market impacts residents and people here in Richmond. Word on the street is that the victim was targeted by a certain group, and even if it’s not accurate, that could be a call to action for many of these impulsive, angry people who will act and react based on that information.”


The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department also planned to send specially-trained deputies into North Richmond to quell the tension.


“We are not going to allow this to continue. And we have this narrow window of time where we have to be that vigilant, when there’s a feud brewing and the people who are involved in this kind of activity are out of control, they’re frustrated, they’re angry, they feel like they need to retaliate, we need to step up our presence,” Gagen said. “And if we can do that for several days or a week, we take the wind out of their sails and then hopefully cooler heads can prevail.”


(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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