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Hurtado Asks State AG Bonta to Intervene in Kern County Violence



The Kern County town of McFarland is the dividing line between two gangs, the Norteños and the Sureños. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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Update: 2 p.m., Friday, Oct.14: Delano Joint Union High and Wasco Union High have joined McFarland Unified in canceling sports and other activities this week after recent shootings and homicides near the borders of Kern and Tulare counties.

Original Story

State Sen. Melissa Hurtado sent a letter Thursday to California Attorney General Rob Bonta asking him to create a special task force to address criminal violence, including homicides, in Kern County.

The Bakersfield Democrat wrote the letter after learning that McFarland High School had canceled its athletics events for the week beginning on Wednesday.

McFarland Unified School District Superintendent Aaron Resendez told Bakersfield’s KGET17 that the sports cancellations were made to protect students.

“We’ve had a number of shootings over the course of the last six to eight weeks,” Resendez said, referencing gang-related shootings in Kern County and neighboring Tulare County.

Hurtado Asks for Special Agents, Prosecutors

In her letter, Hurtado requested that the task force include special agents and prosecutors from Bonta’s office to support local violence reduction efforts.

“This situation is unacceptable to me and to our communities which is why I am requesting additional state resources through the creation of a special law enforcement task force to address the issues,” Hurtado wrote to Bonta.

You can read Hurtado’s letter at this link.

A drive-by shooting in Delano on Monday resulted in two deaths — neither of which were McFarland High students or employees.

Dividing Line Between Warring Gangs

McFarland Police Chief Kenneth Williams told KGET17 that the city is prone to violence because it is the border between two gangs, the Norteños and the Sureños.

“McFarland is particularly located with this issue of Northern and Southern gangs. McFarland is bifurcated by the border between those two gangs,” Williams said. “So what you get is that constant battle back and forth and it affects the city of McFarland, the city of Wasco, and the city of Delano.”

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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