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Redlands police deploys dozens of officers to find gunman responsible for fatal shootings [Updated]

January 7, 2011 |  2:41 pm

Redlands police have redeployed two-thirds of their 74-officer staff in the wake of a shooting Wednesday night in which a suspected Latino gang member fatally shot two black youths and wounded two others, an incident that the mother of one victim believes was racially motivated.

The department has about 50 officers working the streets in the case, said Carl Baker, a Police Department spokesman.

"We don’t have a lot of homicides in Redlands," Baker said. "When we do have something like this, we devote all the resources we have available pretty quickly."

At the time of the shooting, Baker said five youths were in the playground area between two apartment buildings at Oxford Drive and Post Street. At least one youth walked up and began shooting, killing Quinn McCaleb, 17, and Andrew Jackson, 16, both of whom were black, and wounding two other youths. A fifth person was unharmed.

The department has issued a drawing of the gunman, who is believed to be a Latino gang member. But no arrests have been made, Baker said.

He said detectives are investigating whether more may have been involved in the shooting. Baker said investigators did not believe the shooting was racially motivated, but may instead have grown from personal disputes in which the parties happened to be of different races.

"There’s a sense of racial tension," Baker said. "But we’re not looking at this as a racially motivated crime necessarily."

Shanita Williams, the mother of Quinn McCaleb, who died in Wednesday’s attack, disputed this.

As Redlands' population has grown over the last five years, Williams said, a local Latino gang has increasingly harassed and attacked black youths. She said her son was harassed, beaten twice and often chased home from school. In addition, racist graffiti has occasionally appeared on neighborhood walls, she said.

"In my view, it’s racially motivated. I’m going to be as blunt as possible," Williams said. "Multiple families have this issue. This is not an isolated incident."

A week before Thanksgiving, Williams said, a group of Latino gang members armed with bats and guns was going around the neighborhood knocking on doors where it thought McCaleb might be. Words spread through the neighborhood, and residents called Williams and the police. A helicopter appeared overhead and the group disbanded, she said.

Williams said many in Redlands’ black community have moved out from Los Angeles to escape gangs. Some are gang members themselves. However, she said, most of the young kids like her son have been banding together to protect themselves as they have become targets of Latino gang members.

"I know black gangs. I grew up in Los Angeles," she said. "This is really just a clique, not a drive-by, shoot-em-up gang."

[Updated at 3:30 p.m.: Redlands police and clergy plan a march to "Heal the Land; Heal the City" at 4 p.m. Tuesday. The march will be begin at Sun Avenue and Post Street, near where the shooting occurred, and end at Micah House, an after-school ministry for neighborhood youths, a few blocks away on Oxford Drive.]

-- Sam Quinones