EAST PALO ALTO (CBS SF)_ 16 members of three East Palo Alto street gangs were arraigned on Monday for numerous felony charges that include murder, attempted murder and robbery according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.
The defendants were handed down three separate indictments last week by a San Mateo County Grand Jury on the numerous charges as part of a multi-agency effort called ‘Operation Sunny Day’.
Most of the defendants named are East Palo Alto residents.
“I was serving as an interim police chief in Menlo Park in the summer of 2012 and we attributed probably 12 to 15 homicides to the two main street gangs, the Da Vill and the Taliban, throughout the Bay Area, involved in probably 40 separate shooting incidents,” said East Palo Alto Police Chief Lee Violett.
Defendants also include members of the Sac Street gang based on the Peninsula.
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe explained that when gang members would successfully engage in completing their murder, they’d report back to one another and say it was “a sunny day in East Palo Alto”.
“That shows the arrogance and cockiness of this group of people,” Wagstaffe said, explaining how the operation was named.
Of the 16 defendants, 11 are in custody in San Mateo County and five are in custody in other institutions, Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said.
The crimes were allegedly committed because of the defendants’ involvement in East Palo Alto gangs and include three murders in East Palo Alto and one in San Francisco in late 2012 and early 2013.
In the indictment, Jerry Coneal III and Miguel Angel Rivera Jr., both of Menlo Park, are accused of shooting and killing 21-year-old Christopher Baker in the 2200 block of Terra Villa Avenue on Oct. 5, 2012.
In San Francisco on Oct. 7, 2012, Raymond Lewis Bradford, Roberto Gabriel Bustos-Montes, Emmanuel Imani Hyland and Eric Valencia Vargas, all of East Palo Alto, are alleged to have conspired to kill Stoney Lamont Gipson.
Gipson was found dead in his car in the 700 block of Mission Street at about 2:40 a.m. that day. According to the indictment, the defendants followed him there from the Impala Club and shot him and another man in the car, killing Gipson and injuring the other man.
The four defendants are also charged with attempted murder in the incident.
Bradford, Hyland and Tyrone Sostenes Love-Lopez are also alleged to have murdered Jonathan Neri Alzacar in East Palo Alto on Jan. 14, 2013.
Love-Lopez allegedly alerted Bradford and Hyland to Alcazar’s location and the three allegedly went to a backyard in the 2600 block of Illinois Street and shot Alcazar, 24, killing him, and injuring another man, according to the indictment.
Bustos-Montes, Hyland, Love-Lopez, Marvin Ware of East Palo Alto and Nina Cragg of Palo Alto were indicted in another murder less than two weeks later in East Palo Alto, on Jan. 26, 2013.
The indictment alleges that the four defendants tracked down Lamont Darnell Coleman, 21, because they believed he had cooperated with law enforcement.
Bustos-Montes and Love-Lopez allegedly carried out the murder by shooting Coleman with a 12-guage shotgun in the 2200 block of Capitol Avenue at about 9 p.m.
Bradford, Vargas and Ware are also indicted in the attempted murder of a rival gang member on Sept. 30, 2012, on U.S. Highway 101 in Belmont.
Prosecutors allege that Bradford found the rival gang member’s address and Ware and Vargas followed him onto the highway where they opened fire on his car, striking two occupants and causing it to veer off the road and crash.
Vargas was arrested in December that year.
Other charges in the indictments include robbery, drug dealing and witness intimidation.
The other defendants named in the indictment are Ralph Vernon Fields Jr., Donte Demon Jordan, Laquisha Inethia Walker, Leonard James Gaines and Rodney Levence Mitchell, all of East Palo Alto, Robert Wheller Jr. of Hayward and Roshawn Bickham, who is in custody at Folsom State Prison.
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