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Alarm expressed over young women involved in gangs



MULTNOMAH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE - Brenea Sante Williams was arrested with a loaded handgun with a 30-round magazine in a Southeast Portland park Thursday night.Gang violence in Portland is continue to run ahead of last year's record levels, despite an increased focus by the police to prevent it.

Around 20 people suspected of having been involved in gang related incidents have been arrested over the past two weeks on weapon and other charges. Thursday night, five people were arrested and four guns were seized at a gathering in Brentwood Park in Southeast Portland with known gang associates.

"Our focus is on harm reduction. It's taking a toll of everyone, but we will continue to do it," says Assistant Police Chief Kevin Modica.

But the stepped up efforts did not prevent the Gang Enforcement Team from accepting its 55th case of the year on April 19.

That's 16 more than the 39 accepted at that time last year. By the end of 2015, GET had investigated 193 incidents of gang violence, 75 more than the record of 118 set in 2012.

The situation was discussed at the April 22 meeting of the Portland Peace Collaborative, a community forum where the most recent GET statistics were released. They included eight cases accepted for investigation over the past two week. Three people were wounded in two of them. In three others, three houses were shot at, all for the second time this year.

Some of those at the gathering expressed alarm that two of the people arrested in Brentwood Park were women. One, Brenea Sante Williams, 24, was carrying a loaded handgun with a 30-round magazine in her hand when police showed up. She was charged with Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Possession of a Loaded Firearm and Possession of Weapons in a Park.

"It's very concerning that young women are engaging in this kind of behavior," says forum co-chair Antoinette Edwards, director of the city Office of Youth Violence Prevention.

Edwards praised the police for their efforts to reduce gang violence and called on the community to report what they know about previous shootings.

"We're talking about preventing violence here, but there are still a lot of unsolved homicides," says Edwards

To read an earlier story on gang violence, visit portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/301463-178800-shootings-peak-as-cop-shortage-grows.

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