DALLAS - Following a four-day trial, a federal jury deliberated less than 30 minutes on Thursday to convict a local gang member on all three counts of an indictment regarding a June 2009 drive-by shooting involving four law enforcement officers. This verdict was announced by U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Dallas Police Department.
The jury found Rene Salazar, 20, guilty on two counts of assault on a federal officer, and one count of possessing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Salazar is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay on April 5; he faces a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison.
The government presented evidence at trial that on June 24, Salazar, a member of the East Side Homeboys street gang, shot at four law enforcement officers. The officers Salazar shot at included two ICE special agents and two officers from the Dallas Police Department's (DPD) Gang Unit. All four were taking part in "Operation Community Shield," an ICE operation targeting gang members.
According to evidence presented at trial, that evening, at about 9:45 p.m., these officers had arrested a known gang member in the 400 block of Grandview Ave. The two DPD officers were in a marked squad car, wearing blue police uniforms with a badge on the front, a "Dallas Police Department" insignia on the shoulder, and "GANG UNIT" or "DALLAS POLICE" prominently displayed in large white letters on the front and back of the uniform tops. The two ICE agents were driving an unmarked government vehicle and wearing body armor with the words "POLICE ICE" prominently displayed on the front and rear.
After the arrested gang member was transported from the scene, the two ICE agents and DPD officers remained at the scene to continue the investigation. One DPD officer was inside the squad car and one ICE agent was next to the car speaking with that officer. The other DPD officer was located on the curb speaking with a citizen about an unrelated incident, while the second ICE agent was near his vehicle providing cover.
A man, later determined to be Rene Salazar, drove down Grandview Avenue, past the officers, in a gold four-door sedan with a passenger. Salazar stopped at the Grandview and Santa Fe avenues intersection, pointed a pistol out of his car window, and fired three shots at the officers. He then slowly turned onto Santa Fe Avenue and fired two additional shots at the officers. All four officers took cover to avoid being hit by the gunfire. The two ICE agents and one of the DPD officers, drew their weapons and aimed them at Salazar. However, they were unable to safely return fire because of the densely populated neighborhood. This intersection is just down the street from Woodrow Wilson High School.
The DPD officers jumped into the squad car and sped away in pursuit of Salazar and soon thereafter, located the gold four-door sedan, driving with its lights turned off, down Alton Avenue. The officers chased Salazar to a residence in the 300 block of South Henderson Avenue, where Salazar jumped out of the car and ran into a residence.
After waiting for additional support, officers entered the house and removed the other occupants for their own safety. Officers located Salazar in the shower and arrested him. After obtaining consent to search the house from Salazar's father, officers located the gun in the freezer.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Hector M. Valle and Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Brown, Northern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.
This investigation was conducted as part of Operation Community Shield, ongoing national ICE effort to target foreign-born violent gang members. As part of this initiative, ICE partners with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to target the significant public safety threat posed by transnational street gangs. Partnerships with local law enforcement agencies are essential to the initiative's success, and they help further ensure officer safety during the operations.
Since ICE began Operation Community Shield in February 2005, more than 15,600 gang members belonging to more than 900 different gangs have been arrested nationwide. More information on the National Gang Unit at ICE is available at: www.ice.gov.
The public is encouraged to report suspicious activity by calling ICE's toll-free hotline at: 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock.