Teens’ Slayings: Race a Factor, Chief Says

Janet Zimmerman, Press-Enterprise (Riverside, California), January 7, 2011

As Redlands police continued to search Friday for the gunman who killed two teens and injured two others, community groups and churches rushed to quell racial tensions they fear may be stirred up by the shootings.

{snip}

Family and friends said the boys were not involved in gangs. One victim’s mother said her son, who was black, had altercations with Latino gang members for several years.

Police Chief Jim Bueermann acknowledged race appears to be at least part of the motive.

“I certainly don’t want to sensationalize the racial component of this,” he said. “But it’s absolutely part of the investigation.”

The victims had a racially diverse group of friends, but there has been racial tension in the neighborhood, Bueermann said. {snip}

“We do not have a race war erupting in this apartment complex, but there has been tension there between some Hispanic youth and some African-American youth,” he said. {snip}

Bueermann declined to discuss the victims’ backgrounds or whether gangs and drugs may have been factors in the violence.

{snip}

Among the possible motives, he said, is retaliation for a videotaped fight that one of the dead teens, Quinn McCaleb, 17, had posted on MySpace, titled “Me vs. Sergio.”

The 20-second video shows a black male punching and kneeing a Latino teen inside what appears to be a public restroom.

“We haven’t discounted it,” Bueermann said. “We think it’s an important piece of potential evidence.”

McCaleb’s mother, Shanita Williams, said the fight occurred a year ago and, when it was over, the two boys shook hands and resolved their differences.

{snip}

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