Teen injured in gang assault

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LAKEPORT – A Wednesday evening assault that police are calling gang-related left a 14-year-old male seriously injured and another 16-year-old male in jail.


Lt. Brad Rasmussen of the Lakeport Police Department said Thursday that officers were dispatched to the area of 11th and Pool Street at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday on the call of an injured male subject.


At the scene, officers found a 14-year-old male – whose name authorities did not release because he is a minor – with a serious head injury, said Rasmussen. Lakeport Fire Department medical units responded and transported the victim to Sutter Lakeside Hospital for treatment.


Investigators established that five to six male subjects – among them a 16-year-old male who is a documented Nortenos street gang member – approached the victim while he was walking down 11th with his brother and some others, said Rasmussen.


The victim and his brother were both wearing blue pants and hats, a color associated with the rival Surenos gang, said Rasmussen.


The group of males, said Rasmussen, suspected the 14-year-old was a gang member and attacked him, hitting him over the head with a large rock.


Lakeport Police went to the residence of the 16-year-old gang member, who Rasmussen said is well known to local law enforcement. “The suspect has an extensive history of gang-related activity in both Sonoma and Lake County,” he added.


Because the teen is currently on probation, officers were able to conduct a search of his home. They arrested him for assault with a deadly weapon, resisting/delaying and obstructing a peace officer, criminal street gang enhancements and violation of probation.


The victim said he didn't know his attackers, Rasmussen reported. The teen isn't a gang member and hadn't had previous contacts with police.


The boy's brother, who police also hadn't had contact with, did admit to being associated with the Angelino Heights gang, a subset of the Surenos, said Rasmussen.


The investigation is continuing, said Rasmussen. “We've got some leads on some other suspects and they are known to us.”


He added, if police can put together a case on anyone else, they will make additional arrests.


Lakeport Police submitted a report on the 16-year-old arrested in the attack to the Juvenile Probation Department Thursday morning, said Rasmussen. That department will then review the case and decide whether to send it to the District Attorney's Office.


“I would suspect that this will be sent to the DA,” said Rasmussen.


Anyone with information regarding the Lakeport assault is asked to contact Officers Jarvis Leishman or Destry Henderson at 263-5491.


Gang assaults look similar


Wednesday's gang-related assault looks strikingly similar to a March assault that took place in Library Park, in front of TNT on the Lake restaurant, said Rasmussen.


In that March 16 incident, 19-year-old Alex Larranaga of Clearlake Oaks was allegedly attacked and stabbed outside of the restaurant by five Lakeport teens, among them known Surenos gang members. Larranaga survived the assault.


Both assaults involved multiple subjects attacking one victim, said Rasmussen.


“The only difference here,” Rasmussen said of Wednesday's assault, “is that they used a rock instead of a knife.”


Police don't believe the similarities translate into the two attacks being related, Rasmussen said.


The Nortenos and Surenos are the two leading gangs in the Lakeport area, said Rasmussen, and are most responsible for gang-related problems.


He added that there are more Surenos than Nortenos around Lakeport.


Rasmussen said that although there have been more gang-related incidents in recent months, police don't believe there are actually more gang members, but that current gang members are becoming more brazen.


“It just shows that they don't have any fear of carrying out their assaults on people, because they'll do it right on a public street or in front of a restaurant,” said Rasmussen.


In the Larranaga case, four of the five suspects – including two teenagers who will stand trial as adults – are due in court for their preliminary hearings later this month, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.


Ricardo Tapia Muniz, 18; Elias Hernandez, 19; Mathew Domeier, 16; and Juan Yepez, 17, all will be in Superior Court's Department 2 on July 24 to face charges of attempted murder with gang enhancements and aggravated mayhem, which is a lesser charge related to attempted murder, said Hinchcliff. Hernandez and Yepez also face conspiracy charges.


A fifth suspect, a 14-year-old male, faces conspiracy and attempted murder charges with the gang enhancement as well, but isn't being tried as an adult, officials previously reported.


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