Palm Springs addresses recent deadly violence in Desert Highland Gateway Estates

Olivia Sandusky

Late Wednesday night, a 15-year-old was shot and killed in the Desert Highland Gateway Estates community.

It’s the third homicide in the last month, including numerous calls of shots fired.

Following the shooting, Palm Springs City Council issued a statement saying in part, “The Palm Springs City Council is deeply saddened and concerned about last night’s homicide in Desert Highland Gateway Estates… and the continued violence that has escalated between rival gangs. We want our residents to know that your safety is our number one priority.”

At the crime scene Thursday morning, Lt. William Hutchinson said the deceased was found in the front yard of a home, and there may be others possibly injured.

“We are diligently working to bring those to justice who are responsible for these crimes,” said Lt. Hutchinson. “We are looking at the possibility of the ongoing violence between the two neighborhoods.”

Since October, Palm Springs Police Chief Reyes has cited an increase in violence in both the Desert Highland and Santiago Sunrise neighborhoods.

“Now clearly, Palm Springs PD does not have the capacity to continue to address this ongoing violence,” said Chief Reyes.

Chief Reyes recently told Palm Springs City Council that his department is relying on outside help like gang task force teams.

“Our officers have been there after-hours, knowing that this will continue. They’ve literally witnessed, first-hand, vehicles driving up in the commission of a drive by shooting right in front of them,” said Reyes.

At the meeting, Chief Reyes suggested holding an open discussion with the impacted neighborhoods, and has since joined Desert Highland Gateway Estates Community Action Association on their monthly zoom call to receive input from the community.

On Aug. 6, Council member Garner also suggested connecting youth in her district with mental health resources, but her exact plan remains unknown, as she has declined to comment directly to NBC Palm Springs over the last two and a half weeks.

Today, the city sent out a recorded message from Garner that said, in part, “These problems require structural, community based solutions that I am committed to working alongside you to achieve. In the short-term, the support, consideration and compassion for our youth and families is critical to our collective health.”

While the city decides what actions to take next, Palm Springs police say shots fired reports are becoming too frequent.

“It seems every few days we are getting reports of shots fired whether we locate evidence or we don’t locate evidence,” said Lt. Hutchinson.

And, for now, Chief Reyes’ message remains the same as it did on Aug. 6.

“There’s a lot of people scared, and there’s a lot of innocent people who have been targeted. And we need to put an end to this,” said Chief Reyes.


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