San Rafael police were working to prevent a potential surge in gang violence Wednesday following a downtown shooting that left a man with a gunshot wound in the back.
The shooting occurred at about 8:15 p.m. Tuesday at the intersection of Fourth Street and Tamalpais Avenue, where an argument broke out among associates of rival gangs, police said. A 26-year-old man was shot in the back, and four suspects fled in a dark car.
Two suspects were arrested about four hours later on Woodland Avenue, and the others remained at large Wednesday.
San Rafael police Sgt. Mike Vergara, head of the investigations unit, declined to comment on whether police know who the suspects are.
The victim was taken to Marin General Hospital for surgery, and his injuries do not appear to be life-threatening, police said.
Vergara said investigators were making contact with known gang members and probationers and increasing patrols to head off any retaliatory attacks. He said gang violence, which ebbs and flows in the city, has been in a definite ebb phase recently.
"We always get concerned when there is a shooting and something this violent," he said.
The shooting occurred in an area consisting mostly of restaurants, offices, second-story apartments and small businesses. Gang-related violence is rare there. The last major gang incident in that immediate area was in 2010, when shots were fired after a dispute between groups in two cars. No one was injured.
On the other side of the downtown area, a gang member was stabbed to death in 2011 after a gang battle in Albert Park led to a chase into the Gerstle Park neighborhood.
Arlen Rodriguez, who manages the check-cashing business a few steps from Tuesday's shooting, said she was rattled.
"It's very scary," she said. "The good thing is that it's the first time I've heard of that happening here.
"We close at 7 and this happened at 8. I feel worried. We work in this place where we work with money, and it gets darker sooner. I just think we need to be more careful."
Some workers in the area Wednesday were unaware a shooting had occurred the night before.
Vergara said gang violence is still an anomoly downtown.
"The victims happened to be there," he said. "It's not like we have a bunch of gangsters hanging out downtown. This is just a case that these people happened to be there and got hooked up together."
The two arrested suspects were identified as Franklin Samuel Deleon Vicente, 24, and Jorge Luis Martinez, 20, both of San Rafael. Both were booked into Marin County Jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and gang participation, and bail was set at $50,000 each.
The district attorney's office was still reviewing the case Wednesday for potential criminal charges.
"We're waiting to see what develops over the next 24 hours," said District Attorney Ed Berberian.
Berberian said there does not seem to be a major increase in gang-related cases this year in Marin, compared to recent years.
According to data provided by the district attorney's office, prosecutors filed gang-participation charges in 20 cases last year; 16 in 2010; eight in 2009; and 11 in 2008. Statistics for 2012 were not available Wednesday.
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