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Portland Police Increase Presence After Gang Leader Shot

August 18, 1988 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Police increased patrols in a tense neighborhood after a reputed local leader of a Los Angeles-based gang was killed in a gun battle authorities believe was perpetrated by the group’s main rival.

Joseph Ray Winston, 17, died early Wednesday in a small, dimly-lit park near a public housing project known for its gang activity. He became the first gang member killed in a drive-by shooting in Portland, where the Los Angeles- based Crips and Bloods have been active for about two years. The gangs were depicted in the movie ″Colors.″

Shortly after the shooting of the Crips leader here, more than two dozen officers, many with their guns drawn, dispersed a group of about 25 gang members in what police called an extremely tense situation.

Winston, who had told police he was a leader of the Crips at the Columbia Villa housing project, was sitting in the park about 12:30 a.m. when an unknown number of people opened fire from a passing car, said police Sgt. Bob Kauffman.

Police believe Winston or others in the park returned fire. More than 25 shots were were fired, police said. Shell casing were found scattered over a two-block area.

Two teen-age girls who were near Winston were wounded.

About the same time, a shot from a passing car was fired into the housing project. Police weren’t sure if the shootings were related.

Members of the gangs had argued Tuesday, police said.

″We don’t know what the friction was about,″ said homicide Sgt. Larry Neville. ″This is going to be a difficult investigation because no one wants to tell us anything.″

The Crips and Bloods originated in Southern California in the 1960s and 1970s. Police say they are heavily involved in selling crack, a highly addictive form of cocaine.

The gangs, lured by the prospect of untapped markets for crack, have been moving into other parts of the country, authorities say.

Authorities have identified about 90 transplanted Californians among the estimated 600 people in Portland who consider themselves gang members.

City officials recently announced an anti-gang program.

″We were afraid something like this would happen,″ said Mayor Bud Clark. ″That’s why we took the steps we did.″

A reporter at the scene said that shortly after the shootings, about 100 residents gathered near the park, and scuffles broke out.

About 25 Crips members emerged from the housing project and pushed through the crowd, authorities said. They shouted that Winston was ″our home boy″ and that ″someone was going to pay″ for his death, authorities said.

The gang members ignored a police request to disperse. The officers then formed a semicircle and began walking toward the crowd, shining flashlights at them. Several officers had police dogs and many had their guns drawn, witnesses said.

The officers again told the gang members to disperse. The group moved away, but stayed in the general area.

Police were worried about a retaliatory attack by the Crips, who reportedly outnumber the Bloods in Portland.

″We are going to have a very high level of uniform presence in areas where we know gangs are active,″ said Deputy Police Chief Dan Noelle. ″We are also going to be taking some tactical steps, which I cannot discuss. We want to make it uncomfortable to be a gang member.″

Police said they had no suspects in the shootings.