SANTA ROSA, Calif. - Three 15-year-old boys were arrested by Santa Rosa police on Thursday. They are accused of participating in a large fight involving 18 juveniles. One of the boys is facing charges for carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in public.
Police said the fight between alleged rival gang members took place at the Santa Rosa Transit Mall, located at 500 Second Street and that officers responded to the incident at around 4:30 p.m.
Police said they received reports that the juveniles were displaying gang hand signs, yelling "gang terminology" at one another. The news release mentions the youths were wearing "clothing consistent with active gang participation." Police were not specific about the items of clothing that were worn.
A witness told police they saw one of the boys with a handgun and that it appeared he was loading the weapon before returning it to his waistband. The group dispersed before police officers arrived.
Two officers on foot patrol at Santa Rosa Plaza were told the group had fled towards the mall. Police said they located a small group based on witness descriptions. They ran after two juveniles who went into a retail store in the mall and hid behind furniture. Both were detained by officers.
Police said one of the 15-year-old boys, had a loaded 'ghost gun' in his possession. The second boy who was arrested did not have a weapon in his possession when he was detained.
While that was happening, a third officer was chasing a third suspect on foot. The 15-year-old boy exited the same store the other two suspects were hiding in. Police said the boy ignored the officer's commands to stop and the chase went back inside the store the suspect had just exited. The suspect was eventually detained. A knife was found in his possession. The third suspect had a previous arrest this fall that involved loaded, semi-automatic firearm that was discarded when he allegedly fled the scene of a traffic enforcement stop.
The boys face a variety of charges, including; disturbing the peace, and participating in a criminal street gang. Two of the boys face gang enhancement charges. One faces a charge for having the loaded, unregistered weapon. One boy was charged with resisting arrest.
All three teens who were arrested are from Santa Rosa. They were all booked into Sonoma County Juvenile Hall.
Santa Rosa police said they are working to quell gang violence in their community.
"Of the nine homicides in 2023, five of them were related to gang violence. In 2022, four juveniles were arrested for possession of a firearm. To date in 2023, there have been 21 arrests of juveniles in possession of firearms," the department said in their news release.
Police said no one was injured in this incident and said the gang fight was contained due to the police response and foot patrols in the area.
"Throughout the rest of the holiday season, expect to see continued foot patrols in the downtown area, Santa Rosa Plaza, Railroad Square, and heavily trafficked retail areas," Santa Rosa P.D. Lt. Christopher Mahurin said.