Gang violence in public may be a jarring sight, but Chico Police Sergeant Rob Merrifield says this is nothing they haven't seen before. "These things go in cycles like this, where one group will commit crimes against the other group, and then, that group is obliged to retaliate." And then it escalates from there, ending with more bloodshed. Sometimes violence erupts in the last places you'd expect, like the Chico Mall.
Some Chico residents, like Jesse Spain, say the problem has been around since the 90's. "It's just business as usual, just happened to be in a public place." But far more people, like Chico resident Laree Hartman, say the problem has never been this bad. "It's shocking. I've always thought of Chico as tremendously safe. So, to hear that that's happening at a mall is concerning." Peter Weiglein has lived in Chico his whole life, and added, "It scares me. As a father of three kids, wanting to raise them here in Chico I the same kind of town that I was raised in. It doesn't seem to be that type of town anymore, and it frightens me for my kids future."
Others have noticed the issue in the past, but say the problem has become much more widespread, and is working into area's that were once thought to be safe. "If it's happening at the mall," according to Chico resident Ben Weddell," that's not LaSalles, that's not a bar. You know, it's not the middle of the night with a bunch of drunken idiots. That's a place I used to hang out in high school." Chico Mall employee Claire Aldenhuysen added "the mall seems like the safest place you would be, cause it's like, you go there to shop, and have a good time, and then you hear that someone got hurt. That's awful, you know, it makes you not want to go there anymore."
It's a problem the police are working to stop, but Merrifield say's it's not always easy to predict where this kind of violence will occur. "Typically that's a pretty safe location, but these gang members will attack each other wherever they find each other. They're in our schools, in our community, and they don't care where they commit these types of acts."