Social media posts have been popping up claiming a new gang in Fresno called “Catch a Body” is pulling up to random cars and opening fire.
Fresno Police Department Deputy Chief Mark Salazar tells GV Wire℠ by Zoom it’s all just make believe.
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“It was a rap song by a gang member here in Fresno. Some people actually thought it referenced the gang that actually did that rap. But our subject matter experts in gangs have debunked that.”–Fresno Police Department deputy chief Mark Salazar
“It has driven some fear in the community,” says Salazar. “But that’s not a new gang, it’s something that’s been made up.”
Salazar says what is real, is the unfortunate amount of gang related shootings his officers have been responding to. Shootings are up year over year in every single policing district in the city.
To try to stop the violence, Wednesday October 7th, Fresno police chief Andy Hall announced the formation of a city-wide violent crime suppression task force.
Social Media Chatter: ‘Catch a Body Gang’
As for the origin of the name ‘Catch a Body’, Salazar has a pretty good idea how it all began.
“It was a rap song by a gang member here in Fresno,” says Salazar. “Some people actually thought it reference the gang that actually did that rap. But our subject matter experts in gangs have debunked that.”
Here are a few tweets GV Wire℠ found regarding this rumor.
Real Shootings: Multiple Casings Now
“We go to crime scenes now, we’re seeing 2, 3, 4, or 5 different casings out there,” explains Salazar. “That suggests 2, 3, 4, or 5 weapons are being used.”
Salazar says the recent shootings are as a result of gang activity, and he’s now been put in charge of the task force to help stem the violence.
When the task force began operations, the city had experienced 10 shootings in the prior 24 hours.
“What I am encouraged about is that this week we’ve had seven shootings. That’s still way too high,” said Salazar.
One of the strategies his team is utilizing is a partnership with federal authorities to put more of the suspects in jail for longer periods of time with federal charges. There have been 6 recent cases that were converted to federal charges. Salazar says those charges will send a strong message to gangs about how serious the department is about putting a stop to the violence.
“This week so far, we’ve arrested 61 gang members and got 37 guns off the street,” says Salazar. “That’s already in week one.”
Shootings Year over Year in Each Policing District
Salazar presented the numbers comparing this year to last year for each of the policing districts in the city. For the whole city, there have been 547 shootings compared to 272 this time last year.
Southwest Fresno: 164 shootings compared to 74 at this time last year.
Central Fresno: 126 shootings compared to 50 at this time last year
Southeast Fresno: 149 shootings compared to 84 at this time last year
Northeast Fresno: 44 shootings compared to 33 at this time last year
Northwest Fresno: 64 shootings compared to 29 at this time last year
Salazar says in the last few weeks he’s seen a trend developing. “Our issues in south Fresno have gone north.”
A Different Approach
Salazar is doing something a little different this time, and he believes it’ll be more effective. Before the task force began operating last week, Salazar had a meeting – but not with officers.
“I met with 20 Black leaders at the Westside Church God with Pastor (Paul) Binion,” says Salazar. “We’ve never asked for community input. We had a great 90 minute discussion about crime and what they want from us. And so it was a great discussion.”