Eleven people — many of them teenagers and alleged members of rival gangs — are in jail without bond for their involvement in a fight that left a 23-year-old Gainesville man dead.
Daniel Adame was pronounced dead at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Sunday after an early morning fight between members of three street gangs, according to Gainesville police.
Police are still investigating the incident that led to Adame’s death, but say he died as a result of being run over by a minivan.
So far, one person has been charged with murder and 10 people, between the ages of 15 and 24, have been charged for fighting and violating the street gang and terrorism act.
All are members of the Latino street gangs La Onda, BOE-23 and SUR-13, according to police. Members of BOE-23 and La Onda are known allies.
Juan Francisco Villanueva, who police say is an 18-year-old member of BOE-23, is charged with felony murder and two counts of aggravated assault.
Police say Villanueva, of Gainesville, used a minivan to run over Adame, a member of SUR-13, during a fight between the alleged gangsters at Lenox Park Apartments.
Villanueva is also charged with aggravated assault for running over 24-year-old Fernando Acosta.
Acosta, who police say is a member of SUR-13, has been released from the hospital and booked at the Hall County Jail for his involvement in Sunday’s fight.
The low-income apartment complex off Athens Highway where the fight occurred is home to members of various local street gangs, including Mexican Vatos Society, SUR-13 and BOE-23, according to Gainesville Police Sgt. Kevin Gaddis.
The signs of their presence are spattered in spray paint across the walls of some buildings and vehicles in the complex.
But a resident said Monday that gang presence in the apartment complex has been more visible lately.
Andres Carlin-Perez, a 30-year-old resident of Lenox Park, said he frequently sees gang members, mostly young, gathered in the parking lots drinking or fighting.
“It didn’t used to be like that,” Perez said.
Perez said it’s easy to tell which residents are gang members by the colors of their clothes and by how they wear them.
On Saturday, Perez’ sister-in-law witnessed a fight between girls at the apartment’s pool, and Perez said he, too, has seen fights begin to erupt between youth at the complex.
“I just walked away,” Perez said. “I don’t get involved in those things. I try to stay away.”
Perez, who has young children, said the family does not go outside in the complex much anymore.
And after Sunday’s violence at Lenox Park, Perez said he hopes to organize a group of neighbors to talk to the apartment’s managers about the gang presence there.
“That’s not safe for your kids,” Perez said. “We’ve got kids and we don’t feel safe for them to come out and play no more.”
Police have not noticed a trend of increased gang violence in the complex, however, Gaddis said.
“A lot of times that stuff goes unreported,” Gaddis said. “The neighbors see it, and most of the time, we don’t even know about it.”
Gainesville Police did receive reports of Sunday’s fight at about 4:45 a.m., but before they arrived, 911 dispatchers notified them that vehicles were leaving the apartment complex.
Left at the scene were remnants of the fight: broken glass, tire irons, rocks and blood.
Later Sunday morning, police found one of the vehicles that had reportedly fled the scene at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
While police could not say who drove the vehicle to the hospital, Gaddis said the vehicle led police to Adame and Acosta.
So far, police know the rival gangs met near the mailboxes at the apartment complex in their vehicles and began to fight.
Rocks were used to bust car windows. Adame and Acosta were run over.
Police believe the fight was the culmination of a meeting between the gang members earlier on Sunday, but Gaddis said it’s not clear who started the actual fight that resulted in Adame’s death.
“When you’re dealing with gang members, they’re not the easiest people to deal with as far as them wanting to be cooperative,” Gaddis said.
Aside from the charges against Villanueva, 10 other Gainesville residents have been charged in connection with the fight: Vidal Romero, 19; Jose Martinez, 17; Wilson Almendares, 19; Efran Diaz, 18; Jairo Quintana, 17; Juan Pablo Hurtado, 21; Juan Acosta, 21; Eliborio Zable Andrade, 22; Fernando Acosta, 24, and a 15-year-old juvenile police did not name.
Hurtado and both Juan and Fernando Acosta are members of SUR-13; the rest are either members of La Onda or BOE-23, Gaddis said.
The adults remain in the Hall County Jail without bond.
Adame’s death is the second related to gang rivalries in nine months.
A fight between members of SUR-13 and La Onda last year led to the shooting death of 16-year-old Juan “Baby P-Nut” Gomez.
Gomez was a member of La Onda; two members of SUR-13 were charged in his death.
The accused, Robert Montez and Miguel Garcia, both 19, are scheduled to appear in court July 26. District Attorney Lee Darragh has said he is considering pursuing the death penalty in their case.
Police are not sure if Sunday’s fight was connected to Gomez’ murder last fall, and say the motive for the fight is still unclear.
“We don’t know for sure,” said Gaddis. “The anniversary of (Gomez’ murder) is not even until August, so this is a little early.”
Anyone with information may contact the department’s Criminal Investigations Division at 770-534-5254 or the tips line at 770-533-5873.