COACHELLA, Calif - The Coachella Valley's eastern end has experienced a recent spike in crime over the past several days.
Beginning on Thursday, August 27 a Coachella Valley Violent Crime Gang Task Force and the Riverside County Sheriff SWAT team served a search warrant at an apartment complex on Avenue 50 near Jackson Street in Coachella. Authorities said a string of violent crimes happened between July 19- August 25, spanning throughout the cities of La Quinta, Coachella, Palm Desert, Bermuda Dunes and San Jacinto.
"Over the past several weeks the city of Coachella and many of our surrounding areas have seen or experienced an increase in violent crime- to robbery, shootings and some commercial burglaries," Riverside County Sheriff's Department Lieutenant, Andy Martinez said.
According to the sheriff's department, the crimes vary among suspects, but include assault with a deadly weapon and armed robbery on two occasions, vehicle theft, attempted murder, commercial burglary and unlawful possession of a concealed loaded firearm.
"The gang task force started by investigating one case and they were quickly able to identify the suspects of that case to be involved in many of these other cases. That investigation came to an end this past week when they served multiple search warrants and arrested 3 people," said Lt. Martinez.
Anthony Hernandez, 18, and Pete Collins, 20, were arrested and booked at John Benoit Detention Center in Indio. The third suspect is a 15-year-old juvenile. All 3 are residents of Coachella.
Early Saturday morning police got a call at around 1:58 a.m. that a man was lying on the ground near a vehicle on Sundial Street near Solano Avenue in Indio.
"Upon arrival they did find a male adult who was laying on the ground who appeared to be the victim of a gunshot wound," Indio Police Department Public Information Officer, Benjamin Guitron said.
The sheriff's department remained on scene for hours. A gray Mercedes was also at the scene. It's unclear whether it belonged to the victim.
Investigators were seen taking photographs and bagging evidence.
"We don’t know at this time how this person was shot. We’re still investigating that. We have, obviously information at this point that cannot be released because it’s critical to the investigation," Guitron said.
No arrests have been made in the case.
Guitron confirmed to News Channel 3 that the incident is Indio's 5th homicide this year-- a staggering jump compared to 1 homicide in 2019.
On Saturday at around 10:55 p.m. reports of a shooting came in near the intersection of Cairo Avenue and Shady Lane in Coachella.
"A resident thought he was being attacked, called into report the shooting. On arrival the suspect was gone. Our deputies were able to follow leads that led them to a suspect who was ultimately arrested," Lt. Martinez said.
On Sunday night at about 10:30 p.m. reports came in of a shooting on Avenida De Plata near Avenue 50. According to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, a 16-year-old male was struck in the head by a bullet.
"Thankfully it was a grazed wound. That person was transported to a local hospital where he is expected to survive," Lt. Martinez said.
No arrests on that case have been made. Aside from Thursday's raid, the crime-ridden weekend has left many unanswered questions.
"We don’t know that these other crimes are related to those and we don’t know that the crimes that we have not made an arrest on are connected at the moment. We are working on leads, but we have not been able to make a connection as of yet," Lt. Martinez said.
Law enforcement is currently investigating each case, and they are urging the public to come forward with information.
"The sheriff’s department strives to bring justice to our victims and we strive to make arrests in every case, but it’s extremely difficult to make arrests when we don’t have cooperation from the public or people involved, so we’re asking that if there’s anyone out there that knows what occurred or has any information about this case or any other case, please bring it to us. You can call and remain anonymous if you like or you can tell us who you are," Lt. Martinez said.
"The best thing that can happen right now is all the agencies are currently investigating these violent crimes that occurred, is that help your police department. Help by giving us the top information, take advantage of Crime Stoppers," Guitron said.
Callers can opt to remain anonymous and call (760) 341-STOP.