SAN BERNARDINO—Gangs have declared war on San Bernardino and Colton police officers and put them on hit lists in retaliation for the recent shooting deaths of two men by officers, police said.
Law enforcement agencies are taking the threats seriously, officers told The Sun newspaper.
The Inland Empire Projects, a Crips gang that claims territory in western San Bernardino, declared war on San Bernardino officers after the Oct. 1 shooting of Frank Ingram, 28, law enforcement officers told the paper.
Additionally, the Eastside Colton gang in north Colton recently declared a “hit” on police there because officers shot and killed Freddy Joe Enriquez, 24, on Aug. 29.
Gang officers believe the Colton gang is following the lead of the Inland Empire Projects, Colton police Lt. Mark Owens said, adding, “the officers believe it to be credible.”
San Bernardino police are on alert but continue to operate as they always have, police Chief Garrett Zimmon said. Owens said Colton police are also conducting “business as usual.”
Rich Lawhead, president of the San Bernardino Police Officers Association, said officers changed their tactics slightly in the first few days after they learned of the hit but refused to be intimidated.
Officers responded to calls in pairs and called Multiple Enforcement Team officers in for backup on certain calls. Department officials put detectives in uniform and authorized overtime to ensure the manpower was there, he said.
“We are not going to let a gang member or some criminal think that they can own any part of the city or scare us from protecting the innocent people that live in a particular area,” Lawhead said.
Zimmon said the increased police presence was not in response to a “threat to harm an officer” but instead part of a tactical action plan put in place after a series of violent deaths.
On Oct. 1, police pulled over a car driven by Ingram because Dequiente Booker, who was wanted in connection with a killing, was in the passenger seat. Booker and Ingram ran and Ingram was shot during a scuffle with two officers.
In the Colton shooting, police said they were answering a disturbed man call when they noticed Enriquez arguing with a tenant at the Sunset Village Apartments. Officers approached Enriquez and he pulled out a handgun, investigators said.
The officers shot him dead.
A short time later, rumors circulated that the gangs placed officers of both departments on hit lists.
“Who knows if it is true or not true, but we put the word out to the officers,” Zimmon said. “I think we owe it to our officers, even if it is a rumor, to let them know.”