4 MORE GANG KILLINGS ADD TO TENSIONS OF BLOODY JANUARY.
Gang tensions remained high in the San Fernando Valley in February with four more gang-related homicides occurring last month after one of the bloodiest Januarys ever, officials said Friday.
Only one nongang homicide occurred in the Valley in February, so the total of five was markedly less than the 15 recorded in January. At least six of the homicides in January were gang-related.
But Los Angeles police in the Foothill Division said tensions between rival gangs in the Northeast Valley and North Hollywood that have been festering for years erupted in violence.
``Everything here is gang-related,'' said Detective Frank Bishop, who leads Foothill Division's seven-member homicide squad. ``North Hollywood gangs are coming up here and shooting up the area. Our guys are going down there and shooting up their area.
``I'm surprised there aren't more deaths.''
In a continuing effort to find solutions to the gang problem, Deputy Chief Ronald Bergmann, the top cop in the Valley, met Thursday night with about 40 community members, school officials and clergy. The meeting was held to help form steering committees - one to hunt for available resources, the other to develop strategies.
``I have not seen passion quite as high as this,'' Bergmann said.
Police are searching for suspects in four of the five February cases, compounding their workload held over from a busy January in which seven of the 13 cases involving 15 deaths remain unsolved.
Police have a suspect in one case from Feb. 10 that left Macario Alcorn, 24, dead in the 11500 block of Fenton Avenue in Pacoima. Police arrested Lee Ezell, 23, of Van Nuys two days later.
Ezell has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge and is scheduled to appear in court on March 5.
In other February cases, Richard Freitas, 35, of Canoga Park, was killed Feb. 2 while riding his bicycle on Jordan Avenue and Wyandotte Street in Canoga Park in an apparent drive-by shooting.
Andres Vargas, 28, of Pacoima, was slain Feb. 12 in the 14000 block of Paxton Street in Pacoima.
And Jesse Alvarado, 23, of Van Nuys, was found dead Feb. 25 from multiple gunshot wounds to his upper torso in the 6200 block of Hazeltine in Van Nuys.
North Hollywood police are searching for suspects in the gang-related shooting death of Armando Juan Alanis, 27, of North Hollywood, killed Feb. 10 at Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Saticoy Street.
Police say an unidentified man approached Alanis while he was talking on a pay phone, and he was shot and killed without provocation.
February's homicide workload compounds January's record-breaking bloodshed - with police still trying to solve many of those cases.
North Hollywood Division is seeking a shooting suspect from a Jan. 16 gang-related shooting that left Miguel Palomera, 23, dead in the 8400 block of Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Sun Valley.
``We're going to find the suspects that killed these two guys,'' said Detective Andres Alegria, of the North Hollywood Special Enforcement Unit.
Devonshire Division detectives are working to solve four homicides that occurred over a nine-day period in January in North Hills. Three of the slayings are believed to be gang-related.
``They're tough cases,'' said Detective Mike Oppelt, the Devonshire Division homicide coordinator. ``They're either gang- or narcotics- motivated. Witnesses are hard to find.''
Valley homicides dropped to average levels in February