Violent Crime Rises in Santa Cruz County

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Two violent encounters occurred near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk last weekend, along with three shootings in Watsonville from last Thursday to Sunday and six cases of gun-related crimes at the Live Oak/Soquel Corridor over the last few months. According to various police departments throughout the county, the crimes indicated a spike in violence from the typical status quo.

At the Boardwalk, a 17-year-old teenager was stabbed multiple times in an suspected gang-related encounter on Saturday. The Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) arrested four teenagers suspected of involvement, and the victim was transported to Bay Area Trauma Center for treatment.

According to SCPD Chief Andrew Mills, the increased summer traffic at the Boardwalk is a possible explanation for how the two incidents occurred in such close proximity.

“We know that it gets busier in this time of year […] When you take 2-3 million people and put them in a small space, you naturally get incidents,” Mills said. “But we’re doing everything we can to mitigate it.”

A shooting took place only a day after on Sunday, when a teenager discharged a pistol inside of a car in the boardwalk parking lot, striking another occupant in the vehicle. The victim, 19-year-old Javier Calvo, died on the scene and SCPD arrested the other suspects in the vehicle. The incident is not believed to be gang related.

In Watsonville, no one was significantly injured in the three shooting incidents that occurred over the span of four days. However, two of the shootings are being investigated for ties to gangs.

Six gun-related crimes also occurred in the span of the last four months in the Live Oak area, and whether or not these incidents are gang-related is currently under investigation, according to Sgt. Brian Cleveland from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. The area was typically known to be relatively crime-free until these shootings occurred.

“There’s been an uptick in gang and gun crimes,” Cleveland said. “But that’s why we’re allocating so many resources upfront and we haven’t had anything out of nature happen since the [April] homicide [on Soquel Avenue].”