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Fatal shootings raise tension between tribe and Riverside County sheriff

SobobaThe website for the Soboba Casino in eastern Riverside County features smiling winners holding wads of cash or giving thumbs-up in front of slot machines at the tribal casino.  But today those fun-loving images are at odds with the recent violence that has struck near the Soboba Indian Reservation, where two people were shot and killed Monday after a gun battle with Riverside County sheriff's deputies.

It was the second fatal shooting affecting tribal members in less than a week.  The Riverside Press Enterprise said there has been a total of six shootings on or near the reservation in recent months involving law enforcement, increasing friction between tribal members and authorities.

Tribal Chairman Robert Salgado told The Times' David Kelly  that the hostility between the tribe and the Riverside County sheriff now resembles a near state of war. The Sheriff's Department, for its part, has denied allegations by the tribe that they were not briefed about the operations last night. A meeting has been scheduled for Friday to try and improve the situation.

Much tension remains. When Salgado, accompanied by Kelly, tried to drive to the crime scene earlier today, he was blocked by deputies armed with assault rifles:

"You see that, if I was the mayor of L.A. and I was visiting a crime scene they would have been polite and said, 'Yes sir' and 'no sir' but that's not how they treat us," he said. "They treat us all like we are threats."

-- Jesus Sanchez

Photo: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (6)

It's a crime scene Salgado! Do you expect them to hold your hand and skip-to-my-loo through the yellow brick road of evidence?

Kudos to the LA Times for this story, for David Kelly venturing out to the Reservation, to Irfan Khan for the photo showing the Sheriffs on the road, including one with the rifle kind of, sort of pulled up a tad in a menacing manner toward the car and not held to the side pointed to the ground.

That the Sherriffs tracked the suspects and shoot them to death while they were hiding behind a tree, seems out of hand for the circumstances.

Shots were fired yes, but no one had been injured until the Sheriffs killed these two individuals.

Lets see 4 members of a tribe said to have 900 members killed since December 2007. That is a pretty high rate of killings by Riverside County Sheriffs, and matters are clearly out of hand.

The LA Times article shows what some of the other articles I read did not, the lack of respect shown by the Riverside County Sheriff's Departmant for Tribal Authorities of a Sovereign Nation.

Riverside's Sheriff's Department needs step back, stop being defensive and have a serious look at itself, and also someone outside the Sheriff's Department needs to review the Department as well.

Change is clearly needed, and it seems that it is largely the Sheriff's Department that needs to change.

..................not surprising. the riverside sheriff's dept. has a long history of over-reacting, to say the least.

The Sheriff Overreacted?!? I dont understand, what does everyone want them to do, ask them to "please" put down their weapons, have a nice cup of coffee and talk it out?!? Of course they persued them, they had deadly weapons, and were not at all shy to use them on the general public (remember they shot at the guard that WORKED there first). The Sheriff was doing their Civic duty to try to aprehend these potential murders, and when they did ask them to drop their weapons, these "poor innocent people" SHOT AT THE SHERIFF!!! There are photos to prove that they meant business on the Authorities. Has everyone lost their common sense. There are 911 calls from people who feared for their lifes, and needed the sheriff's help, and all of a sudden they are the bad guys?!? Get a grip people.

Twodogkd obviously lives in a make believe world where people can shoot at innocents and they are the good guys. I do believe his racist views about Native Americans cloud his judgements, hence someone as decorated as he would see that these Soboba Tribe members obvously tried, unsuccesfully to bait and ambush deputy sheriff's that were doing their civic duties. Yes, the Soboba Reservation is soverighn land, however it does not give the people living on that land the right to commit crimes against other people, such as shooting at them! Get a grip on reality and drop your racist views on the world, not everyone is against Native Americans, we're against criminals, no matter the race, color, crede or religion.

Well the poster Eric is a confused individual.

Nothing in my post said I had "racist views about Native Americans", that sounds like SPIN put on by Eric to somehow suggest that I am a racist.

The Sheriffs did NOT respect the Tribal Chair who came out to view the crime scene. In other areas, Mayors, Governors, Presidents go to view disaster areas or crime scenes and they are respected and shown the area. But in this instance, the Tribal Chair was not treated with respect and allowed to view the crime scene area on the Reservation of which he is the leader of a Sovereign people.

Crimes occur here and their including shootings, but the police generally do not cordon off over 3,000 acres and prevent people from reaching their homes in areas not near the crime scene. That is what occurred on the Soboba Reservation.

If someone is shooting in a white area, the Sheriffs do not go to a high school, unrelated to the shooting, and pat down all the students at gunpoint. That is what happened on Soboba one article said, and that, in my opinion is out of hand.

If one person of any race is involved doing something illegal, that does not mean that all other people of that race are involved in that matter. But Eric apparently is trying to support the SPIN that Soboba tribal members are trying to bait the Sheriffs. I don't believe that at all. I have visited that reservation, been by that guard house, attended tribal events and the museum. I have never had any trouble whatsoever with any tribal member. In fact on the contrary, members of that tribe have been positive influences on the extended community in the surrounding area, and were even written up in an flyer of a neighboring community about joint programs.

And get this, to my knowledge 4 Tribal members are DEAD, but sheriffs have not been injured. So who exactly is targeting who exactly?

It is not the Sheriff's job to execute people. They should be bringing them in and letting the courts decide. The individuals killed most recently, I believe, where the mother and father of a daughter, who is now left with no parents. These were young individuals who were hiding behind a tree in a remote area of the reservation. It would seem no one was realistically in threat by this man and woman. The SWAT team was said to have an armored vehicle. What about waiting things out, or using tear gas, but no, the Sheriffs SAID a shot was fired and then articles said 4 or 5 sheriffs shot at the two, hitting them multiple times killing them. Doesnt sound like this was a shoot to kill situation to me. Why FIVE SHERIFFS shoot? Seems like overkill to me.

If those were YOUR family members killed, you may have a different take on the use of force by the Sheriff's department


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