ALTUS, Okla._Residents in Altus are on high alert following two separate shootings in the city Sunday night and Monday morning.
Police say around 11:00 p.m. Sunday, two teenage boys in the bed of a pickup were stopped at an intersection when a car pulled up next to them. The teens jumped out of the truck after recognizing the individuals as gang members. Police say that's when someone from inside the car opened fire, hitting one of the teens multiple times.
Twelve hours later, police say several shots rang out in the breezeway of the Ridgecrest Apartments, about two miles from where the initial shooting took place. While no one was injured, police were able to recover a shell casing at the scene.
The teen who was shot is in stable condition. As of now, police say it's still too early in the investigation to confirm if there's a connection between the shootings. However, police did confirm that Sunday night's shooting was between members of rival gangs, the Bloods and the Crips.
Altus Police Detectivee Billy Fowler has been working in Altus for about eight years says the shooting is the result of an ongoing feud between rival gangs that dates back several years.
"That lifestyle has moved out to your rural communities. That's something we have dealt with since at least the 1980s," Detectiv Fowler explained.
Fowler says in communities like Altus, rival gang members are easily identified. He says the lack of gang size compared to larger cities makes it easier for gang members to find their targets.
"Our gangs in Altus are small enough that, like Oklahoma City will have hundreds of gang members in a certain gang, we'll have about 30 or 40. I believe it was a crime of opportunity, but yet they were targeting certain individuals," Detective Fowler said.
Fowler says with the city's rash of recent shootings, police have recognized the involvement of a much younger generation in gang crimes. He says just as fast as they can lock them up, more follow in their footsteps.
"It's kind of an ebb and flow thing. One year, a certain gang will be in the news, or we will be dealing with them quite often, and the next year a different gang," Detective Fowler said.
Fowler says most of the crime in Altus—whether it be theft, fraud or shootings—can be connected to gang activity. He says most of the violent attacks are not targeted at the general public, but often at rival gang members.