Uptick in gun violence troubles Woodland police, neighbors

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WOODLAND, Calif. (KTXL) -- A candle and basket of flowers mark the spot where Woodland's sudden uptick in crime turned tragic again.

"Everybody was having dinner and we just heard the shots," said neighbor Steve Litz. "Got out there and the neighbor across the road was giving him CPR."

"I heard gunshots about eight minutes to 7, sounded like five shots in rapid succession. There was a man down on the sidewalk and my neighbor Shawn asked me to call 911," said neighbor Robert Westfall. "(I was) wondering if the gentleman, whoever was shot, was still alive or not."

Finding himself in the middle of Woodland's third shooting incident in a month, and its second deadly one, Westfall learned Sunday that the unfortunate answer to his question was no.

The man shot on Elm Street died, despite attempts by neighbors and paramedics to revive him.

On Monday, loved ones identified him as 44-year-old Raymond Ortiz, a father who was engaged at the time of his death.

Woodland police have tapped neighboring agencies to address a spike in violent crime they say is rare.

The first incident in this cluster was the murder of 16-year-old Alvaro Gamera on the night of Oct. 21 near North and East streets. Twenty-two-year-old Francisco Ponce is now under arrest for the killing.

Over the weekend, a man was shot several times on Tide Court. By Monday, police said the man's condition had since improved.

No suspects have been identified in the two weekend shootings but the police department believes all three cases could be related.

"We are also investigating possible ties to local gangs, but at this time we cannot confirm that the two shootings over this past weekend are gang related," the Woodland Police Department wrote in a release posted Monday.

The goal of borrowed police manpower is not only extra eyes for investigation but also for deterrence.

"Anytime that we can bring in one, extra people, extra personnel, or extra expertise on certain things and anytime you can have that addition to our own existing team, it's a benefit," said. Woodland Police Sgt. Dallas Hyde.

Neighbors near the crime scenes and around town were counting on those extra officers as they start to look at the place they've called home differently.

"It kind of makes you worried about what could happen. It could have been somebody else. It could have been my daughter out there," Litz said.

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