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TEEN'S DEATH SPARKS ACTION PLAN.

Byline: Cecilia Chan Staff Writer

NEWBURY PARK - Sheriff's deputies stepped up patrols Monday and officials met to devise an action plan after two gang-related shootings over the weekend left one teen dead and a community in shock.

Three Van Nuys men were arrested Sunday after shooting at four local residents - one a known gang member - in an attack that appeared related to Friday night's fatal shooting nearby, Thousand Oaks sheriff's deputies said. There were no injuries Sunday.

Edgar Cruz, 19, died Friday night, and an acquaintance, Andres Morales, 18, was wounded, deputies said. Seven suspects, identified as Van Nuys gang members, were arrested a short time later on suspicion of murder as they headed east on the Ventura Freeway, officials said.

The violence marks an escalating conflict between Mexican and El Salvadoran immigrants in the two communities, senior Deputy Harold Hanley said.

Friday's shooting at a Newbury Park condominium complex followed a fight, Hanley said, adding that deputies had responded to a number of calls regarding arguments and fights in the neighborhood in the past seven to 10 days. Several juveniles were arrested a week ago carrying clubs.

``We stopped them before anything happened,'' he said.

But on Monday, Cmdr. Keith Parks, chief of the Thousand Oaks office, met behind closed doors with top officials from the city to respond to the increased violence.

Extra resources were directed solely to the Conejo Creek neighborhood where Cruz was shot. Two bicycle patrols were ordered during the evening hours and one to two patrol cars and a community officer were assigned to work the area from 4 p.m. to midnight, Hanley said.

``We want to stop that before it gets any worse,'' he said, adding they will bring in a psychologist to help residents deal with the situation.

A town hall meeting also is being planned for midweek to address any concerns about the recent incidents.

In the second shooting, police on Sunday arrested Javier Garcia, 25; Marcos Garcia, 21; and Melvin Eliso Bonilla, 24. Garcia's bail was set at $510,000; and the others were held in lieu of $500,000 bail each. A .25-caliber automatic handgun was recovered in thesuspects' vehicle.

They are accused of firing shots at about 5:10 p.m. at Raul Flores, Raul Hernandez, Dagaberto Funes and Alfredo Cervantez in the parking lot of a Taco Bell on Ventu Park Road, a block from the site of Friday's shooting, Sgt. Terry Hughes said. He said the two shootings happened within a short distance of one another. One of those victims knew Cruz, he added.

Deputies said one of the victims is a documented gang member from one of the city's oldest and largest gangs, but refused to provide further details.

The three suspects were arrested Sunday on the Moorpark Freeway at New Los Angeles Avenue in Moorpark. The victims, uninjured, left the scene for a memorial service in Oxnard for Cruz.

Cruz died of a gunshot wound to the chest, the Coroner's Office said. His body was taken to Mexico on Monday morning, an official with Garcia Mortuary in Oxnard said.

Search warrants were served Monday at the homes of the 10 suspects, all of whom face arraignment today in Ventura County court, Hanley said.

Hanley said deputies have not ruled out that Cruz had gang ties.

Monday afternoon, the Faith Connection of Ventura County planned a vigil later where Cruz had fallen.

``This is the 61st vigil in the last four years, where young people have been murdered,'' said the Rev. Larry Wayman, who was walking through the neighborhood Monday morning, calling on people to attend the vigil. ``We respond to an event that could tear a neighborhood and community apart.''

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Map: Site of first shooting Friday

Site of second shooting
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 2, 2000
Words:630
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