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Laying low in the Rogue Valley
By David De Rurange/KTVL.com
MEDFORD, Ore. -- Gang members on-the-run mistakenly think the Rogue Valley is a good place to lay low, according to MADGE, the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement team. Police warn how a safe neighborhood can change quickly, thanks to the influx of those who stop by from Interstate 5.
The case of Gavin Epps and Joseph McWoodson is an example of "armed and dangerous" blood gang members attempting to hide out in the Rogue Valley. The U.S. Marshals had a warrant for Epps for assault with a deadly weapon and for McWoodson for a parole violation from a robbery charge. The Marshals received a tip of where the men were hiding.
SWAT teams converged at house in Medford, not far from Hedrick Middle School. The school was placed on lockdown for 30 minutes, while authorities with the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement team (MADGE) closed in to arrest Epps.
"When you have that type of situation, you're worried that the violent suspect might go mobile. Certainly, we want to take the school as a precautionary measure with a lockdown." Lieut. Brett Johnson with MADGE said.
Meanwhile, McWoodson was at another location. He was at a home on the same block of Central Point resident, Richard Bronsart. Bronsart said he knows his neighbors.
"I've lived here for four years and gotten to know them pretty well. We kind of keep an eye out for anything." Bronsart said.
Bronsart didn't know about the blood gang member living nearby.
"You gotta be vigilant, both from a law enforcement stand but also from a citizen stand, ones that tell us to see something that isn't right." Johnson said.
McWoodson tried to flee, but police caught up to him. McWoodson and Epps currently sit in the Jackson County Jail awaiting extradition to California to face charges.
Police said violent gang activity ebs and flows in the Rogue Valley with much of it depending on who comes off of the interstate.
Bronsart said he will pay more attention to his surroundings. Police said I-5 is a channel that can quickly change who Bronsart's neighbors are.
MADGE said there have been few documented Bloods in the Rogue Valley. Nortenos and Surenos gangs have the most strongholds in the valley.
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