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Santa Maria police talk gangs after recent murder

The arrest of a 17-year-old for a stabbing murder is again bringing up the issue of gang violence. Back on the 10th, a man was killed in what is believed to be a gang related incident.

Santa Maria police say they’ve made progress with gangs here in town and people told Kcoy 12 that they do feel safer. At the beginning of the year, many people were nervous just to take an evening walk.

There was a spike in homicides in Santa Maria that spilled over to the beginning of this year. 17 accused gang members were arrested – part of Santa Maria PD’s “Operation Matador.” 10 people were killed in that murder spike.

Most recently though, 18-year-old Luis Castaneira of Santa Maria was stabbed to death on his street earlier this month. Shortly after, police arrested 17-year-old Daniel Montelongo.

“It’s always going to be sad to see people being killed in your community,” Santa Maria resident Syerra Fox said.

Police are encouraging people to get out and feel safe in public.

“Come out and take back the street and you do that by going out for a walk with your family, with your neighbors, take the dog, take the kids,” Santa Maria Police Sgt. Russell Mengel said.

Police estimate about 200 people in the city are classified as gang members. More than 100,000 people live in Santa Maria.

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