The East Palo Alto man jailed on Nov. 27 in connection with three recent drive-by shootings in Menlo Park was freed on Monday, Dec. 2, pending further investigations by police in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto.
Prosecutors did not have enough evidence to justify keeping Erick Barragan in county jail, Deputy District Attorney Sean Gallagher told the Almanac. While police investigations continue, Mr. Barragan has no travel restrictions, Mr Gallagher said.
Police made three arrests on Nov. 27 in the Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park in connection with four drive-by shooting incidents in Belle Haven and East Palo Alto: one earlier in the day, two within the past week, and one in August.
Menlo Park police stopped a car that matched images of a vehicle captured by a residential surveillance camera on Hamilton Avenue at around 11:15 a.m., the same approximate time of a shooting in the 400 block of Hamilton, police said. The occupants, an adult driver and two juveniles, were arrested.
The youths were booked into the juvenile hall at the Youth Services Center in San Mateo on charges of being in possession of a concealed firearm, carrying a loaded firearm in public and possession of ammunition by a minor, police said.
One of the youths was also charged with shooting into an occupied dwelling and assault with a deadly weapon. Those charges were in connection with a Nov. 23 incident around 9:30 p.m. in the 1300 block of Willow Road in which someone fired shots into an apartment building. No one was injured, police said.
The driver, 21-year-old Mr. Barragan, was arrested on suspicion of charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and was turned over to the East Palo Alto Police Department in connection with a shooting in that city. Mr. Barragan was later booked into San Mateo County jail on suspicion of several charges, including child endangerment (by the Menlo Park police) and two attempted murder charges (by the East Palo Alto police).
The Hamilton Avenue shooting on the morning of Nov. 27 involved gunfire striking an unoccupied parked vehicle and two homes, one of which was occupied by several adults and children. No one was injured by the gunfire, police said.
That evening shortly before 7 p.m., a black Toyota Avalon drew the attention of a Menlo Park police officer on patrol in the area of Market Place and Del Norte Avenue. After calling in reinforcements, the officers stopped the vehicle, detained and searched the occupants and the vehicle, and found three loaded firearms and ammunition.
The suspects cooperated, police said. "They all came out (of the vehicle) without any problem at all," said Officer Paul Phu.
The search turned up a .38 caliber Ruger revolver under the front passenger seat, a .357-caliber Magnum under the driver's seat, and a .38 caliber handgun in the possession of one of the youths, police said.
The suspects are also being investigated in connection with two other Menlo Park shooting incidents:
■ Shots were fired at around 2 p.m. on Nov. 24 into a vehicle occupied by two children, ages 4 and 5, and their mother, and parked in the 1300 block of Madera Avenue. No one was hurt, police said.
■ One person was taken to Stanford Hospital with a non-life-threatening gunshot injury after a shooting in the 400 block of Hamilton Avenue at about 1 p.m. on Aug. 28, 2013. At the time, police said they were considering the incident to be gang-related.
Police have shell casings for each of the incidents, Officer Phu said.
Police have not been able to make a connection between the suspects and a fifth shooting in the 400 block of Hamilton on June 21, 2013, Officer Phu said.
Anyone with information on these incidents is asked to call Menlo Park police at 650-330-6300 or the department's Anonymous Tip Hotline at 650-330-6395.
Correction: The Almanac erred in an earlier story in saying that police had a video and a license plate number to work with in this investigation. Police told the Almanac that they had a video and a photo.