Three agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement were shot and injured on Thursday when they were serving warrants labeled as ‘high-risk’ during a sweep that occurred in the early morning hours. The sweep was carried out against San Francisco Bay area gang members. All of the agents suffered non-life-threatening injuries after they were shot with an assault rifle. The three were listed as being in stable condition after the incident in Petaluma. The sweep was related to a triple homicide related to a gang in 2010 in South San Francisco.
“We owe them a debt of gratitude,” U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said. “My office is proud to be associated with professionals who put their lives on the line to protect others.”
Thirteen people were arrested, most of them from the 500 Block/C Street gang. The 13 men were among 19 total men who were charged last week for racketeering and murder. Four of those that were charged in the triple homicide could face the death penalty if they are convicted. On Friday, 15 of the 19 charged are scheduled to appear in court for the first time.
“This indictment and the related arrests serve as a warning to local gangs about the consequences of using violence and fear to maintain control of their so-called turf,” Clark Settles, Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security in San Francisco, said.
A neighbor in the area where the sweep and shooting occurred, Caroline Uland, said she woke up because of loud sounds and an explosion.
“It was kind of frightening,” she said.
The manager of a Best Western Hotel close by, Bob Everhart, said he heard multiple shots, yelling and then a second round of gunfire. He went outside to see what was happening and was told to get back inside his hotel.
“The neighborhood was on lockdown at that point,” Everhart said.
Another neighbor, Joseph Sullivan, told authorities that a woman and two children younger than 12 live in the house where the sweep took place. Other neighbors told authorities that cars often come to and from the house, parking in the street illegally.
“To be honest, I thought they were selling weed out of the house, but obviously something more crazy was going on,” Sullivan said.
The sweep was related to a December 2010 drive-by fatal shooting that occurred in South San Francisco. Killed in that shooting were Gonzalo Avalos, Omar Cortez and Hector Flores, all believed to be members of a gang. Three other people were wounded in that shooting.