Bakersfield gang targeted in multiagency operation

Multiple law enforcement agencies take part in an operation targeting a gang Tuesday morning, Dec. 12, 2017, at Beverly Drive and Potomac Avenue in Bakersfield, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX photo/Claudette Stefanian)

Local, state and federal agencies took part in a Bakersfield gang crackdown Tuesday.

Police Chief Lyle Martin said this was the culmination of a year's worth of work and a “surgical approach to addressing gang violence."

Martin said their target was the West Side Crips.

He said the investigation developed new leads about who may have killed 5-year-old Kayson Guyton and 3-year-old Major Sutton. Each child died in gang-related shootings earlier this year.

Police said 34 search warrants were served at various locations throughout the city, and dozens of people were arrested. The U.S. Attorney's Office said they targeted gang members and their associates, and list of alleged crimes include murder, drug dealing and money laundering.

Three suspects are still outstanding. Police released their photos and identified them as Tommie Thomas, Jarvis Thomas and Michael Holmes.

U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert announced charges against 10 federal defendants: Tommie Thomas, William Thomas, Danny Willis, Gary Pierson, Ladaireus Jones, Bernard Warren, Manuel Cruz III, Luis Fernandez, Myron Dewberry and Bryshanique Allen.

Talbert said they used wiretaps and undercover drug buys during the investigation.

Police listed the following arrests on state charges: Skylor Billings, Daniel Willis, Gary Pierson, Gary Clayton, LaShonda Bailey, Mijah Burns, Breyonna Cartwright, Lakeijuh Cartwright, Elijah Cobbins, Paul Dean, Keshaunte Deloney, Rayneisha Fite, Rodney Gupton, Latimore Hunter, Lavail Johnson, Ladareius Jones, Jeremy King, Jonathan Knight, Jack Sam, Cornelius Shiver, Sara Sims, Jalen Taylor, Larry Thomas, Jervern Weldon and Daray Woodard.

Among those arrested were three suspected of murdering 50-year-old Edwin Smith in September outside a bowling alley and bar off Real Road. The murder suspects were identified as Skylor Billings, Daniel Willis and Gary Pierson. Gary Clayton was arrested on suspicion of being an accessory to the murder.

Some of the suspects face both federal and state charges.

Seven more people were arrested during the operation but weren't targets of the operation.

More than 300 law enforcement personnel from more than 20 agencies took part in the operation, which was dubbed "Blind Mice."

The U.S. Attorney's Office said this investigation even led to the disruption of a West Side Crips' plan to shoot into a crowd of a couple hundred people that included rival gang members.

During the service of one of the search warrants on Tuesday morning, an officer-involved shooting took place at Beverly Drive and Potomac Avenue in east Bakersfield. The Kern County Sheriff's Office said the suspect received treatment at a hospital, but the Sheriff's Office did not say that the suspect was shot. No officers were injured during the shooting.

At the news conference, Talbert also voiced support for police use of ShotSpotter technology, which uses advanced sensors placed throughout neighborhoods to detect gunshots and provide law enforcement with precise locations of shootings.

"This allows for more effective investigations and greater opportunities to find those responsible for gunfire and their weapons," Talbert said.

The department has not yet said when the technology will be implemented, only that it would likely be placed in areas with high gang violence.

Martin called the ongoing fight against gang activity "a community effort.”

The chief urged gang members to take stock of their choices and take opportunities available to them to leave the gang life behind.

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