Austin police: Random gang violence rising

March 5, 2010 8:45:01 AM PST
After recent drive-by shootings and the death of a 75-year-old woman who was beaten during a purse-snatching, Austin police say they're increasingly concerned about random gang violence in the city. Unlike many gang-related crimes, in which members attack rival groups, recent victims were chosen for no apparent reason, police said.

"It was just complete random violence," Cmdr. Chris Noble told the Austin American-Statesman in Friday's editions. "We can't find anything at all to indicate this was targeted."

Jennie McClusky, 75, died Wednesday from injuries sustained in a January attack as she stood outside a Taco Bell. The woman, said to be frail and about 90 pounds, was elbowed in the face after resisting the purse-snatching, according to police reports.

Police are investigating her death as a homicide but are awaiting autopsy results before possibly bringing more charges against the eighth-grade student and 17-year-old accused of robbing her. The older teen also has been charged with soliciting membership to a criminal street gang.

McClusky's death followed a pair of drive-by shootings Saturday. One man survived being shot in the neck during one of the attacks and has been released from the hospital, authorities said. No one was hurt in the other shooting.

"They were out having what to them was fun," Noble said.

Officials from the Austin Police Department, the Austin school district and the Travis County district attorney's office met Thursday night to discuss issues that contribute to gang activity.


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