Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Dozens of Valley residents have been killed or injured in the past decade as gang violence has spread beyond fights between gang members. A New Timesreview of reports of such incidents shows at least 62 innocent bystanders have been hurt or killed as the result of gang crimes.

There are likely many more. No one keeps records on how many non-gang members are victims of gang violence, so any accounting is an exercise in backtracking individual cases. But a review of incidents shows innocent victims are being harmed with surprising frequency.

A sampling from just this year:

In November, Olga Duarte, 29, of Phoenix is shot in the chest as she eats ice cream outside a Dairy Queen at 19th Avenue and Peoria. Duarte is hit by an errant bullet fired during a gun battle between two passing cars. Police haven't ruled out gang warfare as the cause.

In October, Cesar Aquino, 45, of Peoria is stabbed to death outside the Circle K in Glendale where he worked after he tried to follow gang members who allegedly had tried to steal beer.

In September, Christopher Acosta, 21, of Phoenix is shot and killed at a party in Phoenix after a disturbance triggered by the flashing of gang signs. His brother says he was a bright, good kid who was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

In September, Russell Hamblin, 33, of Gilbert is slain at a Chandler self-service car wash. Police arrest three gang members who they say planned to rob him.

In September, Christopher Camarena, 11, of Phoenix is killed after a motorist crashes into the car carrying his family. Police say the driver was fleeing a gun battle in a gang-ridden area.

In June, Hector Soto, 16, of Phoenix is shot to death when he is caught in the crossfire of a gang fight at a north Phoenix park. Family and friends say he was not involved in gangs.

In April, Chandler Police Officer James Snedigar, 38, is killed during a shootout with a member of a prison gang who officers had followed after a jewelry store robbery.

In March, Wanda Fox, 57, is mortally injured by a bullet that flew in her kitchen window. Police say gang members had fired at the wrong house.

In March, Michael Fromme, 24, and his girlfriend Amy Sue Hoppes, 21, are fatally shot during an intended robbery while they are washing a car at a Glendale car wash. Police arrest suspects who are also linked to two more murders in Phoenix. Authorities won't say the crime is gang-related but it is similar to the Chandler car wash murder of Russell Hamblin, which police immediately suspected was a gang crime.

In February, five gang-affiliated victims are gunned down in two separate but apparently related incidents in south Phoenix. Four bodies are found inside a shack near 24th Street and Broadway. Two days later, one man is dead and another wounded in a shooting at a nearby home. In one of the shootings, Elizabeth Moore, 2, is hit in the arm by a bullet while being held by her mother on the porch steps of her house. Her mother's friend is also wounded by flying bullets.

 
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