The 17-year-old male victim of a shooting conducted by a member of a Vista criminal street gang in Fallbrook on Friday night, Nov. 2, appears not to have any ties to a local gang, authorities have said. The 17-year-old, who was accompanied by a 20-year-old male, sustained three bullet wound injuries, but he is expected to make a full recovery. Shots were also fired at the 20-year-old, but he was not struck.
“Vista gang members must have thought they were striking out at Fallbrook gang members, but we have discovered that neither of the Fallbrook men are documented street gang members,” said Sheriff’s Detective Dan Laibach. “We think the [Vista suspects] just assumed they were, since they were walking around late at nigh and wearing somewhat baggy clothes.”
Given the known tension between the members of the Vista and Fallbrook criminal street gangs, it was thought the act may have been one of retaliation, however, the cause isn’t known.
“We can’t tie this to a specific case that would make it a known act of retaliation, at least we aren’t aware of one, so we are assuming the Vista gang was just striking out, trying to make a statement in Fallbrook,” said Laibach.
The incident took place that night about 10 p.m. The two Fallbrook men were walking home from a friend’s house, southbound on the east side of the 1200 block of South Main Street, approaching Clemmens Lane, when a 2000 or 2001 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with three Hispanic males passed them traveling northbound. The driver of the Monte Carlo then made a turn and pulled into the parking lot of Del Rey Avocado packing company.
Laibach said the three men in the Monte Carlos were in their early 20s.
“Two of the occupants of the car exited the vehicle and the third one remained in the driver’s seat,” explained Laibach.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Patrick Yates said one of the males outside the vehicle yelled “Vista Home Boys,” brandished a gun and began shooting at the Fallbrook males as they were walking away in the opposite direction.
“The Fallbrook kids started to run, heard the shots, and the 17-year-old felt himself get hit; he fell down, got up again and called a parent to come get him,” said Laibach, adding that the other male from Vista was displaying a knife.
“The 17-year-old was shot twice in the lower torso and once through the chin,” said Laibach. “Fortunately, the bullets did not strike any major organs. He had to undergo surgery, but he is going to be okay.” The boy’s parent initially took him to Fallbrook Hospital, but he was later transferred to Palomar Hospital.
The men got back in the Monte Carlo and drove off immediately following the shooting.
Laibach said there was a witness to the attack.
“A man was sleeping in a semi tractor-trailer outside the avocado packing company, waiting to make a pickup early the next morning,” he said. “He was awakened by the gunshots; they were happening all around his truck.”
Laibach said the truck driver was able to give good descriptions of the individuals and the vehicle they were in.
“He is a very good witness,” he noted.
Authorities have said it appears the Vista shooter fired eight rounds at the Fallbrook males.
“We have recovered eight rounds/casings from the scene,” said Laibach. “It was obviously a semi-automatic handgun that was used.”
The evidence has been sent to the Sheriff’s Dept. lab, where tests are being conducted on them.
“We are very hopeful to get DNA or fingerprints off of them because someone had to load them into the magazine,” said Laibach.
The North County Gang Taskforce has opened a full investigation into the incident, Laibach said.
“Our gang unit is in the process of conducting interviews with various people and looking into vehicles matching the description [of the one in the crime],” he said.
When located, Laibach said the suspect(s) will most likely be charged with attempted murder.