Gang, residents clash at Mesa meeting - East Valley Tribune: News

Gang, residents clash at Mesa meeting

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Posted: Wednesday, June 4, 2008 11:33 pm | Updated: 8:47 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

An angry, emotional group of teens and a community concerned for its safety expressed their fears Wednesday night at a Mesa police community meeting.

Shooting in west Mesa leaves 1 dead, 1 injured

The group of about 70 gathered at Powell Junior High School, 855 W. Eighth Ave., at 6:30 p.m. to talk with police about a shooting Sunday that killed 20-year-old Gilbert resident Nicholas James Curley and seriously injured a 15-year-old boy.

A number of longtime Mesa residents sat on one side of the room and Curley's friends - who are in a gang called the Juggalos - sat on the other side wearing brightly colored hats and clothing.

The Juggalos call themselves a family, but are classified by law enforcement as a gang.

The gang is centered on the band Insane Clown Posse.

At times, the teens stormed out of the building and at other times they cried. Some adult residents shook their heads and mumbled aloud as the kids expressed anger.

The shooting occurred in the 700 block of West Sixth Avenue, near Extension Road, and left blood throughout a neighborhood, a bullet hole in a window and tire marks in a yard.

Police said the shooting was related to drugs. The gunman is still on the loose.

Lynn and Ellen Rees called the shooting in their neighborhood "a shock."

The couple awoke early Sunday to a bleeding boy pounding on their front door asking for help. The couple immediately dialed 911 and were told to stay inside their home.

"We don't live in the best part of town, but nothing like this has happened before," Ellen Rees said.

The Rees family had to clean the blood off their front door, railing and posts.

But despite the drug deal that shook the west Mesa block, those who knew Curley said he was a nice kid.

"Just because it was a bad situation, it doesn't mean he's a bad person," said Robyn Radke, whose 15-year-old daughter is a Juggalo.

"All these kids are taking (a lesson) from that and making sure the same thing doesn't happen in their life."

Radke's daughter, Kailei Taylor, called Curley a "great person" who was "respectful."

"I don't see why anyone would want to kill him," she added.

Mesa police answered questions from the crowd about neighborhood graffiti, the homicide investigation and the types of crime in the area.

Cmdr. Andy Alonzo assured the crowd that the police department is doing everything it can to keep the neighborhood safe.

"Anytime we have an incident like this, it brings a sense of urgency to our department," Alonzo said. "We have increased patrol in the area."

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