School district police working to prevent more gang violence

Reported by: Ashley Cullins
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Updated: 2/13/2013 11:10 am
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & -- A suspect is released on bail after being arrested last night in connection with the shooting of a teenage boy in Reno on Sunday. Another teen was killed on Friday in the same neighborhood. Police say both victims belong to the same gang.

Police are looking for more suspects and the school district is looking to prevent this from happening to more local teens.

"It's a tragedy to have such a young life taken over something that's really kind of senseless," said Washoe County School District Police Chief Mike Mieras.

16-year-old Cesar Ortiz lost his life Friday in a drive-by shooting at Capital Hill and Locust in Reno. A memorial now stands where it happened.

Mieras says while Cesar and the hospitalized victim of Sunday's shooting don't go to district schools these crimes still affect the students.

"Any time there's an act of violence that occurs the neighborhoods it does always trickle back to the schools," Mieras said. 

Mieras says gang activities happening inside schools are uncommon, and the district has two officers that are part of the regional gang unit to help keep it that way.

"We do a lot of intervention because I think that intervention is the key," Mieras said. 

Part of that intervention is showing the students what can happen from the perspective of other kids who are behind bars.

"We went down and interviewed four young, young youth that are in prison and they talked about how the gang life got them in prison and what it's like now that there is no gang to support them because they're in prison," Mieras said. 

They show the video to at-risk students and talk to parents about warning signs.

Mieras says students who live in the area should walk home from school in groups and be aware of their surroundings. If you see a fight in progress, call 911 immediately.

Mieras says if you know something about these shootings, or other gang activity, it's important to come forward. If you're afraid, you can call the school's secret witness line anonymously at 775-329-6666.

"If they don't report it, it could happen to them," Mieras said. "It could happen to one of their family members." 

Police are still looking for additional suspects in these shootings. If you have any information, you can call Secret Witness anonymously 24-hours a day at 775-322-4900.

Students can also talk to their counselor or school police.
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