RICHMOND (CBS SF) — Seven alleged Richmond gang members were in custody Wednesday for a violent East Bay crime spree that included three murders and 14 attempted murders, including the shooting of an Orinda school board member, authorities said.
Other crimes attributed to the group included six armed robberies, two carjackings and a Fremont home invasion captured on home security camera video.
Richmond police said six of the alleged gang members – Tarell Brown, Ronald Fluker, Tommie Woods, Bobby Williams, Marrico Williams and Torion Young – have been in custody since August on various charges, while the seventh, Jermaine Hicks, was arrested last month.
Police spokesman Lt. Felix Tan said Wednesday the ongoing investigations tied the suspects to additional charges.
Police Chief Allwyn Brown left little doubt how he felt about the arrests of the alleged members of the gang known as Swerve Team. “This is a big deal,” Brown told reporters in announcing the arrests. “This highlights the changing nature of serious young offenders. How they operate…It (the investigation) has resulted in multiple arrests, the seizure of several crime guns and the closure of multiple serious crimes across two counties and 12 cities.”
Over the last 18 months, state, local and federal investigators have been collecting evidence on the gang members who have allegedly victimized residents all across Contra Costa and Alameda counties, police said.
The suspects are all from unincorporated North Richmond. An eight suspect, Cardell Waters, is still at large and the subject of an intense manhunt, police said.
The gang is allegedly implicated in the September 2016 killing of 18-year-old Otilio “Nico” Martinez in Richmond, “an innocent kid who was shot 50 times at close range. He had no gang affiliation,” Richmond police Lt. Felix Tan said.
Hicks was accused in two other murders – that of 26-year-old Melvin James and 30-year-old Maxim Biswas – along with more than a dozen charges of attempted murder with offense dates going back a year.
All three murders were committed in Richmond, Brown said.
The criminal complaint implicated Hicks in murder 26-year-old Melvin James, 18-year-old Otilio Martinez and 30-year-old Maxim Biswas.
The investigation began with a home invasion robbery in Fremont last December that was captured on home security cameras. A detective recognized one of the armed robbers.
“He thought it was odd that someone from Richmond was committing a violent crime in Fremont,” Brown said.
Swerve Team gang members were also allegedly involved in the high-profile robbery last year that resulted in the non-fatal shooting of Orinda School Board Vice President Carol Brown.
Brown and her husband, 63-year-old Tom Spalding, were beaten and shot after they were jumped by two gunmen outside of their home after returning from a late night trip to the grocery store.
“These are some of the most egregious crimes we’ve seen in the Bay Area in quit some time,” FBI Special Assistant Bertram Fairries told reporters. “It’s not typical gang retaliation stuff. There are individual victims with no connection at all to them. They’re intent was to intimidate and scare.”
Chief Brown said the gang has been connected with crimes committed in Fremont, San Pablo, Pinole, Rodeo, Berkeley, Antioch, Pittsburg, Brentwood, Danville, Orinda, Livermore and Richmond.