“My brother wasn't part of any gang,” said Charles English. “But they shot him down, shot him seven times with an AK-47.”
At a vigil honoring victims of East Side violence Sunday, English and family members donned T-shirts imprinted with the face of Douglas Ray English, a U.S. Air Force vet killed in a wave of East Side shootings late last year that stunned authorities and city leaders. An unknown suspect in a dark sedan fired on the porch of an East Crockett Street home in late December, killing Doug Ray English. Minutes after the shooting, a drive-by injured two men three miles east. Over the course of seven days, a dozen more were injured, including a child, in East Side drive-bys. By January, authorities blamed the rash of shootings on East Side gangs.
Local, federal, and state authorities this month heralded the results of a months-long operation, dubbed Triple Beam Alliance, aimed at cracking down on East Side violence. Begun in January, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus called the operation "a proactive street gang investigation in response to the increase in gang related violence in the East service area," which bagged 738 arrests on the East Side. Under half of those arrests, 338, were for felony charges, McManus said, and authorities reported seizing more than 70 guns, over $85,000 in cash, 74 pounds of marijuana, 2,800 grams of cocaine, 367 grams of heroin, and over 1,000 grams of meth.
On Sunday, five months to the day after Doug Ray English was shot down, the English family gathered with other neighbors at the Wheatley Heights Sports Complex for a vigil remembering similar victims, a memorial organized by neighborhood group Together Helping Each Other (THEO). Said Beatrice McKinnon, Doug Ray English's sister, “So many lives have been lost, just taken out here. It's senseless.” Earlier in the day, less than three miles away, a 25-year-old man was shot and killed during an altercation inside his Center Street home.
East Side councilwoman Ivy Taylor this month announced another community meeting to discuss public safety on the East Side, which is scheduled for Tuesday, June 5, at 6 p.m. at the Barbara Jordan Community Center on 2803 E. Commerce. For more info, contact her office at 207-2122.