SACRAMENTO, CA - After a day and night of gunfire and bloodshed, a Sacramento County gang suppression unit worked the streets Thursday night to gather intelligence and make arrests.
The streets surrounding the latest shootings in south Sacramento seem strangely quiet.
"The community is afraid to be out. You gotta think about the retaliation shootings, if it is gang-related," gang unit Det. Nick Goncalves said.
He and his partner made a traffic stop on a possible gang member only a few blocks from one of the shooting scenes.
"We contact as many gang members as we can. Whether it's through parole or probation searches, vehicle stops," Goncalves said.
On the 3600 block of 46th Avenue, where someone sprayed a hail of bullets across front yards, almost no one was willing to talk, either out of fear or because they don't want the attention.
"I keep my child in the bedroom and I keep him down on the floor, kinda down low and I keep him playing his Playstation all day," neighbor Patricia Millard said.
Privately, neighbors maintain the gunfire is nothing unusual and that in this case, it signals an escalation of a turf war between rival gangs.
Last year, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones secured an federal grant of more than $11 million to beef up his gang unit from 6 to 31 members.
"On a personal level, it feels safer to have more people on our side out here," Goncalves said as he and his partner made another stop, checking tattoos, asking questions and looking for guns and drugs.
Much of the work involves long days of gathering intelligence on gangs and their membership.
"To have that constant pressure on them helps us as a community," said Goncalves.
The gangs try to adjust to law enforcement tactics, even as the gang suppression unit must constantly adapt to evolving gang tactics and strategy.
News10 tried to talk to residents along 46th Avenue, but they would not talk openly about the shooting because they feared retaliation by gang members. Eventually, News10 was warned to leave the area.
Sacramento County has an estimated 12,000 validated and non-validated gang members.
Detectives are reluctant to say whether the latest round of shootings signals a new wave of gang violence and retaliation.
"It may be. I know that the investigation is ongoing," Goncalves said as yet another traffic stop led to a validated gang member on who is on parole. He was not in violation and was allowed to leave.
The tension on the streets is palpable and Goncalves acknowledged the next few weeks could see more violence regardless of how many officers saturate the streets.
"Unfortunately, you have that element who still don't care and do what they do anyway, " Goncalves said.