A manhunt is intensifying for two members of Richmond street gang known as the Manor Boyz who were the subjects of a six-month police and FBI investigation and crackdown. As Richmond Police Lt. Felix Tan tells CBS 5, investigators are now reaching out to the media and "hoping to push this guy out [of hiding]," referring to suspect Teari Watts, who along with his 15-year-old brother Joshua are the only two remaining members of an eight-person gang who have eluded arrest following a May 18 murder in a local park in which the Manor Boyz have been implicated.
The fatal shooting took the life of 20-year-old Alexandra Sweitzer, during what's described as a drug transaction gone wrong in Booker T. Anderson Jr. Park. But the Manor Boyz have been the subject of multiple homicide investigations dating back to July 2016, and they are suspected of multiple other crimes around the Bay Area including home invasion robberies, credit card fraud, narcotics trafficking, firearms trafficking, and human trafficking. According to Lt. Tan, "Prostitution of juveniles and adults, they don’t really care."
Six members of the Manor Boyz named for the housing complex they live in formerly known as John F. Kennedy Manor, and more recently renamed Monterey Pines Apartments are now in custody following three arrests on Wednesday, and Richmond Police and federal officers, along with the Contra Costa County Safe Streets Task Force, seized 11 firearms in the process of their sting, as well as heroin and cash, as KRON 4 reports. They also report that Joshua Watts is the prime suspect in Sweitzer's murder.
In addition to Sweitzer's murder, the gang has been implicated the killings of Chrisean Nealy and Javonte Prothro in September 2016.
Richmond police Chief Allwyn Brown calls the hunt for the Watts brothers a "high priority concern" and they are considered armed and dangerous.
Richmond has long been a nexus of gang activity in the Bay Area and NeighborhoodScout notes that the small city averages 755 violent crimes per year. A decade ago, after earning a reputation as having one the highest murder rates in the state, Richmond launched the Office of Neighborhood Safety, and as Mother Jones reported in 2014, the department launched a program in which city-funded stipends were paid to several dozen individuals who were deemed to be the most likely to be the perpetrator or victim of a shooting. The catch was that in order to stay in the program and receive payments of $300 to $1000 a month, the participants had to shun crime and violent behavior and prove that they were turning their lives around. The program was credited with dropping Richmond's murder rate to the lowest it had been in 33 years, and well below nearby Oakland's, at 11 per 100,000 people in 2014 but that number jumped to 22 per 100,000 people in 2016, suggesting an uptick in gang violence.