CHICO >> A gun battle between rival gangs that erupted in broad daylight Saturday in a busy intersection left shell casings scattered and detectives trying to piece together the incident.
Chico police are concentrating on the five arrests made Saturday in order to present a case to the Butte County District Attorney”s Office and get them through arraignment, Sgt. Greg Keeney said Monday. Detectives are also busy conducting follow-up on the investigation.
Keeney, who oversees the Police Department”s Gang Unit, said there aren”t many new details that can be released or that are available.
Paul Thao, 20, Nelson Thao 18, Flash Her, 21, and Boy Yang, 22, who were all identified as Oroville residents, were arrested on suspicion of shooting at an occupied vehicle, conspiracy, participating in a criminal street gang, and assault with a firearm, according to Chico police arrests records.
A 17-year-old male from Sacramento was also arrested.
Chico police is still looking for three suspects who ran away from the scene. The three people at-large are believed to have been rivals of the people who were arrested.
At about 1:15 p.m. Saturday, the alleged gang members engaged in a gunfight that started near Manzanita and Marjorie avenues, and continued to the parking lot of the North Valley Plaza.
Multiple people reported gunshots being exchanged between a red Honda Civic and a white Toyota pickup. The occupants, who were all described as Asian males, all ran away from the scene after the vehicles became disabled, but the five people who were in the Civic were detained.
Chico detectives are collecting surveillance video and other evidence to piece together the shootout and the moments leading up to it, but the violent encounter may have been as a result of of the rivals running into each other at an event held at nearby Bidwell Junior High School, 2376 North Ave.
“For all intents and purposed … everything points to that they saw rival gang members and they engaged each other at the Hmong New Year (celebration) and the chase was on …” Keeney said.
There was only one injury reported Saturday and it was to the alleged driver of the Honda, who was reportedly shot in the hand, by a person also in the Honda who was trying to fire at the pickup.
The man, who was treated at Enloe Medical Center, was released Monday and is now at Butte County Jail in Oroville.
There were a lot of people in the area as the two alleged gangs shot at each other, Keeney said. It was in broad daylight in a busy intersection with pedestrians and other vehicles around.
The sergeant said he”s had time to reflect on the case and the amount of gunfire and “it still amazes me that no one innocent was injured.”
Although a total of rounds fired hasn”t been determined, bullet holes and casings were found at the Chase bank, in a tire of an uninvolved vehicle and there are other buildings likely were hit, but the damage hasn”t been found yet.
Chico police received a flood of phone calls during the incident, and detectives are still working to contact all the witnesses.
Keeney said Saturday”s incident is near the top in brazenness of gang shooting Chico has seen. Chico police don”t have a history of contact with the suspects arrested, but he added the Butte County Sheriff”s Office”s Gang Unit does.
On Saturday, every single Chico police officer who was on duty responded to the incident, but it also received assistance from the Sheriff”s Office, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the California Highway Patrol.
The Chico Police Department”s Gang Unit also had help from the Sheriff”s Office Gang Unit.
“We couldn”t have accomplished what we did without them,” Keeney said.
Chico”s Gang Unit, which includes Keeney and three detectives, will be focused on this case “for the foreseeable future,” he said.
Anyone who witnessed the shooting is encouraged to contact the Gang Unit at 897-5820.
Contact reporter Almendra Carpizo at 896-7760.