A 21-year-old man was arrested on Monday on suspicion of opening fire outside a taco shop during a pre-dawn gang brawl, killing two people and injuring five others in a California city that has seen nine killings in 12 days.
Giovanni Pacheco was taken into custody hours after the shooting in Salinas and booked into Monterey County Jail, police said.
The 1:30 a.m. shooting happened after a fight inside Taco's Choice restaurant spilled outside, police said. It was the latest in a spate of recent violence.
Arriving officers found a 22-year-old man dead from gunshot wounds. A 28-year-old man who also was shot several times was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Salinas police Cmdr. Dave Shaw said the shooting occurred after two different groups in the restaurant started brawling.
The conflict moved out into a parking lot, where it grew into "a pretty decent sized fight" before someone pulled a handgun and began firing into the crowd, Shaw said. A 25-year-old man was critically wounded. Four other victims, including a 53-year-old woman who was shot multiple times, were expected to survive.
Detectives were gathering surveillance videos from neighboring business and interviewing witnesses.
Salinas, a farming town in Central California, has seen an uptick in violent crime in recent weeks, Shaw said. There have been 14 killings so far this year, nine in the past 12 days. Last year, there were 22, including at least 11 that were confirmed to be gang-related.
"There's no real way to find out what's motivating these guys to pick it up all of a sudden," Shaw said.
Salinas, a city of 150,000, has long battled gang violence, and frequently has one of the state's highest gang-related homicide rates. Just 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of two major prisons, the main rivalry in town is between the Nortenos and Surenos, gangs that once were largely confined to Northern and Southern California, respectively, but now are doing battle in much of the state.
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