Police: Shootings were escalation of gang feud

2012-05-05T22:00:00Z Police: Shootings were escalation of gang feudBy NICHOLAS BERGIN / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com
May 05, 2012 10:00 pm  • 

Lincoln police believe a couple of recent shootings, one of which ended with two men wounded, are the latest escalation of a long-festering feud between rival gangs.

The first shooting started with a knock on the door of a home near 17th and Knox streets.

The 24-year-old man who answered at 12:30 a.m. Feb. 18 was shot in the stomach, and at least another five rounds were fired into the living room, one hitting a 27-year-old man in the leg, police said the next day. Both men survived.

Police believe the shooting victims are associated with the 18th Street gang and that their attackers are members of the South Side Winos, according to a written search warrant request filed Tuesday seeking cellphone records of people arrested after a second shooting.

The feud between the gangs dates back several years, the warrant request says.

The second shooting took place April 4 after two men began throwing rocks at a Buick Regal parked outside of a house in the 1400 block of South 21st Street, where police believe members of the South Side Winos live. Several men from the house chased the rock throwers into an alley across the street.

A plainclothes Lincoln police officer conducting surveillance of the house watched the events unfold and heard a gunshot moments after the men entered the alley, the warrant request says.

Police later arrested two Lincoln men and a woman in connection with the shooting. Javier E. Mendoza, 26, and John R. Brooks, 23, have been charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and discharge of a gun near a vehicle or building. They both are still in jail.

Tanille Tilford, 24, has been charged with carrying a concealed weapon, a misdemeanor. She missed a court appearance Wednesday, and a warrant has been issued for her arrest.

Following the second shooting, police found two 9 mm handguns, a Glock and a Ruger, stashed under a tree near Ridgeway Road and Bryan Circle. The Glock was reported stolen on Dec. 5, 2008, in North Platte and the Ruger on Sept. 18, 2006, from Kansas City, Kan., according to the search warrant.

Police have documented 36 gangs in Lincoln, although 20 of them are believed to have fewer than 10 members, Lincoln Police Officer Katie Flood said.

Three are considered active by police, she said.

While Flood said the level of gang violence in Lincoln is much lower than many other cities of similar size, gang-related crimes happen regularly, generally ranging from assault to minor acts of vandalism.

Shootings are less common, but they happen. An incident last year in which a 27-year-old Lincoln man shot a Grand Island man in the face had clear gang overtones.

Many of those present on May 14, 2011, outside a bar at 10th and L streets are affiliated with gangs, Flood said, and witnesses reported seeing gang signs displayed by rival members just before Anthony Escamilla shot Luis Carlos Garcia from four feet away.

Escamilla pleaded no contest last month to first-degree assault and use of a firearm to commit a felony.

Reach Nicholas Bergin at 402-473-7304 or nbergin@journalstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/LJSBergin.

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