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Georgeanne Barr, 4, is kept inside the her Prune Street home by her concerned parents after several possibly gang-related fights and a shooting disrupted the west Medford neighborhood this week. Bob Pennell / Mail Tribune photo - Bob Pennell

Fear in the streets

Residents of west Medford near Columbus Avenue say drugs, gangs and violence are turning their neighborhood into a "scary" place.

That neighborhood was the scene of more violence Monday night after a shooting sent one man to the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds less than 48 hours after what may have been a gang-related fight in the same neighborhood.

The scene at the intersection of Prune Street and South Columbus Avenue Monday included police strobe lights, yellow tape and a blood trail from where 33-year-old Joshua Lee Sandusky was shot and ran screaming to the Woodland Heights Market at the intersection around 9:45 p.m.

The alleged shooter, Christopher Michael Sheets, 28, of the 1500 block of Prune Street, turned himself in to police Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday afternoon he was lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $3 million bail and charged with one count of first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault. Police said they recovered a handgun they believe was used in the incident.

While there has been gang activity in the area recently, police said Tuesday that this latest incident was not gang-related. Some neighbors are not so sure of that.

Neighborhood resident James Baugh, 60, who has lived in the area for 24 years, went to the Woodland Heights Market Tuesday morning with his great-granddaughter, and as they stopped to pick plums on the way back home, he said the area had taken a turn for the worse.

"We never had any problems," he said, "But now drugs and gangs have moved in "… and it's kind of scary."

The day before Monday's shooting, police broke up a fight involving 15 to 20 people in the 400 block of South Columbus Avenue, about a block away from where the shooting occurred. The fight involved knives, bats, clubs and, according to police, at least one Surenos gang associate.

Another nearby fight broke out July 5 between alleged associates of the Surenos and Nortenos gangs, and may have been in retaliation for the murder of 18-year-old Ted Sanchez in Phoenix on June 18, police said.

Lt. Bob Hansen of the Medford Police Department said that the shooting victim and the suspect in Monday's incident knew each other, and the shooting occurred at Sheets' residence just down the street from the intersection.

Sandusky was released from Providence Medford Medical Center Tuesday morning a hospital spokeswoman said.

Neighbors said they had seen the two men before, but didn't know who they were. Resident Kylee Davis said she saw Sandusky Monday night as he ran wounded down Prune Street and recognized him as living nearby, but didn't know who he was.

"I don't associate with my neighbors, not in this neighborhood," she said. "I hope the guy's all right."

Amanda Barr said violence in the neighborhood has made her want to move, but she hasn't because some of her neighbors are friendly and the rent is cheap. However, she won't let her 4-year-old daughter play in the front yard.

"It's not always gangs, but something's always happening," Barr said. "Some of it's drug-related, some of it's just people partying and drinking and fighting and doing stupid things."

Hanging out in his yard just before noon Tuesday, Daniel Baker said he hasn't lived in the neighborhood long, having recently moved in to help family, including a young nephew.

He said that the shooting, fighting and gang activity are sources of concern for him, but he doesn't plan to leave.

"The gangs are moving in more and more," he said, "Outside of the usual bulls—-, it's still a pretty nice neighborhood."

Mat Wolf is a reporting intern at the Mail Tribune. Reach him at 541-776-4481 or by email at mwolf@mailtribune.com.

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