March 1, 2016

Arrests Made in Recent Gang Violence

The Santa Cruz Police Department has responded to an increase of gang activity and gang-related crime over the last several days. SCPD employs a constant strategy to proactively address gang involvement and suppress gang violence.  Some of these strategies include working with at-risk kids through our P.R.I.D.E. and BASTA programs.  Suppression strategies include extra patrols in known gang areas; contacting, identifying, and documenting potential gang members; and conducting probationary compliance checks.
2/28/16 Shooting Investigation - Case 16S-01777
On Sunday 2/28/16 at about 11:35 p.m., Santa Cruz Police Officers responded to the area of the 500 block of Center Street for a report of gunshots in the area. Santa Cruz Police Officers were patrolling the area due to prior reports of several fights as a concert was letting out on Pacific Avenue.

Officers quickly identified that the gunfire came from Center and Elm Streets. Several witnesses reported hearing multiple gunshots and seeing two cars speed away in opposite directions. Witnesses described a gold colored Acura traveling northbound on Cedar Street. The other car was described as a dark color sedan speeding away southbound on Cedar Street. When Officers arrived at the scene they located several shell casings.
Officers spotted the Acura driving away from the scene. Officers noted the car had several bullet holes along the driver’s side. The Acura was stopped in the 700 block of Chestnut Street in a high-risk car stop.
The occupants were contacted and the car eventually searched. During the search, Officers located a loaded .45 caliber handgun in the purse belonging to a passenger. This weapon did not match smaller caliber shell casings found at the scene.

The driver was identified as a 20 year old male from Salinas. The passenger in the front seat was a 27 year old female from Salinas. There was an additional passenger in the back identified as 30 years old male from Salinas. SCPD will not release the names of these individuals as they are victims of the attempt homicide. The involved parties claimed not to know why they were shot at.

The driver and female passenger were arrested/ cited for possession of a loaded and concealed firearm.

Currently, there is no suspect information on the shooting. Detectives are continuing to follow up leads and looking for video surveillance. The police department is asking anyone with information or who may have witnessed the shooting to contact investigators 831- 420-5820.

2/29/16 Suspect Arrested in Stabbing Investigation - Case 16S-01719
Adolfo Pantoja has been identified and arrested as the suspect in the stabbing investigation from 2/26/16. He is 18 years old and a Watsonville resident. SCPD Detectives identified Adolfo Pantoja as the suspect, securing an arrest warrant and issuing a “Be on the Lookout” to law enforcement agencies. Pantoja was spotted near his home on Ford Street by Watsonville Police. He was taken into custody and turned over to SCPD. SCPD Detectives served a search warrant on the suspect's home looking for evidence from the stabbing.

Adolfo Pantoja is arrested for the following charges: (1) Attempted Murder and (2) Participating in a Criminal Street Gang.

Stabbing Investigation Background:
On Friday 2/26/16 at 11:45 p.m., Santa Cruz Police Officers responded to the 7-11 on Ocean Street on a report of a victim with multiple stab wounds. The victim, a male, age 19 from Watsonville claimed to have been stabbed in the area of Pacific Ave and Center Street. The victim waved down a Good Samaritan who began to drive the victim to the hospital. While enroute, the victim’s injuries worsened and his condition declined. The Good Samaritan driver called 911 and stopped at the nearest parking lot so that the victim could be treated by EMS staff.

The victim sustained multiple knife wounds to his face and torso. He was transported to a Bay Area trauma center where he is still undergoing treatment.

2/27/16 Shooting Investigation Case 16S-01721
On Saturday 2/27/16, approximately 12:08 a.m., the Santa Cruz Police Department responded to reports of gunfire in the area of Cedar Street and Cathcart Street. Upon arrival SCPD Officers located a victim of gunshot wounds on the sidewalk near the intersection. The victim is a male, age 27, from Watsonville. He sustained gunshot wounds to his hand and lower back and transported to a Bay Area trauma center. The victim is recovering from surgery and is in stable condition. No one else was injured during the attack. The suspects are still at large.

Based on preliminary statements from the victim and witnesses, the information suggests the shooting is gang related. In the course the attack, a suspect chased after the victim and fired multiple times.

SCPD Officers and Investigators closed a majority of the area for an in-depth search for evidence. Multiple casings and bullet fragments were found in the parking lot downtown. One downtown building was struck multiple times. One of the rounds shattered a window. SCPD Officers also canvassed the businesses and neighborhoods contacting potential witnesses.

Both suspects fled the area. The suspects and the firearm are all still outstanding.

Santa Cruz Police Detectives are continuing to examine evidence, interview witnesses and collect video surveillance. Anyone with information relative to the suspect’s identity is encouraged to contact the Santa Cruz Police Department Investigation Unit at (831) 420-5820.

The Santa Cruz Police Department continues to encourage residents to be partners in public safety. We are committed to reducing gang crimes and violence in the City of Santa Cruz. Anyone with information regarding suspicious or criminal activity is encouraged to contact the Santa Cruz Police Department.