Seaside Police Serve More Search Warrants in Further Attempts to Quell Violence
November 15, 2012
By Nic Coury and Arvin Temkar
In a Seaside church parking lot, a group of onlookers murmured among themselves as a police scene unfolded across the street.
“I hope they don’t start shooting,” says 44-year-old Eric White, a lifelong Seaside resident who stopped on his bicycle to watch the action.
A pair of bystanders, hunched beneath the shade of the Friendship Baptist Church on Broadway and Flores St., narrated the events as if it were a football game.
“Like I say, they’re breaching pretty soon,” says a man, peering at the cop surrounded house. The Monterey Peninsula Regional Special Response Unit (SRU) and Seaside Police Department served two search warrants yesterday, one in Seaside and one in Marina, looking for gang activity, drugs and guns.
The commotion—which involved a barrage of rifle-toting SRU officers and several heavy-duty police vehicles—caused quite a stir among neighbors and passersby.
“There’s been a lot of activity around this motherfucker,” White says, referring to recent police crackdowns in the city.
In the last month, local law enforcement agencies have served several high-risk search warrants in Seaside on homes thought to have drugs and illegal firearms. These searches have resulted in nearly 27 arrests and seizure of 27 guns this year.
Since the beginning of this year, there have been 26 gang incidents, including two murders, two armed robberies, and 12 shootings resulting in injury. Seaside police estimate more than 250 gang members live in the city.
On Broadway Avenue yesterday, the action died down quickly—no shots were fired because nobody was home—and the onlookers went back to their days. White sped away on his bike, remarking that it's the most police excitement he’s seen in a few years. If he’d stuck around, he’d have been in for a double feature.
The police squad took off, but went only a block down the road, to a two-story house on Luxton Streeet.
“We have a search warrant for this residence, and you are surrounded,” blared a cop on a loudspeaker. “Exit with your hands up out the front door.”
The message was repeated, this time in Spanish.
Nearby, neighbors stood in front of a brick divider and some low hedges, smoking cigarettes and snapping photos with their cell phones. Under the blazing midday sun a policeman took a battering ram out of a police van, while another one escorted a K-9 dog to the house.
Meanwhile, a woman in a striped pink sweater jostled an ice-cream cart laden with Mexican snacks and potato chips up the slight incline of Broadway and clanked a bell. She sold at least two popsicles before moving on.
The onlookers made comments about the neighborhood’s gang problem before falling into silence.
A man with a blue baseball cap says: “If Seaside was a kitchen you’d just spray some Raid, and all the roaches would go away.”
Bystanders nod in agreement.
“I’m glad they’re doing this in our town,” remarks a man who has traveled from the first scene to this one on his bike. “It’ll make us so much safer.”
Later that evening, there is a more formal gathering to discuss the city’s gang issues. About 200 community members gather at the Oldemeyer Center for a gang awareness presentation hosted by the Seaside police department.
Guest speaker Sergeant Bryan Cupak of the Monterey County Joint Gang Task Force gives a presentation about gang tattoos, clothing, and attitude. He says none of these is a definitive marker of a gangster. The best thing to do is to call in suspicious activity.
“Your police officers are working very hard,” says Seaside Police Chief Vicki Myers. “Seaside is a very good city. It’s still a very safe city.”
“Do we have issues?” she says. “Absolutely.”
But is the city making headway?
“Abso-freaking-lutely!” says Myers.