Two more arrested in fatal gang-related fight

Two more arrested in fatal gang-related fight

MEDFORD — Investigators continue to arrest people suspected of being involved in a fatal gang-related fight Sept. 15, but haven't charged anyone in the murder of 24-year-old Marco Antonio Diaz.

Two more men were arrested Friday, bringing the number of people police have publicly linked to the case to 13.

Medford police arrested Dustin Michael Freeman, 21, Friday after serving a search warrant on his Spring Street home as they tracked clues in the Diaz murder, Medford police Detective Sgt. Mike Budreau said.

Police said Freeman was at the melee at an apartment complex in the 600 block of Beatty Street where Diaz was fatally wounded. Diaz died at a local hospital several hours later.

Freeman was charged with riot, second-degree disorderly conduct for that incident, Budreau said.

He attracted police attention again the next week. While the Deer Ridge fire raged on Roxy Ann Peak and people gathered in east Medford neighborhoods to watch the flames, Freeman confronted some of them. He told six people he was affiliated with a gang and that the neighborhood was his territory so they should leave.

When one of the bystanders challenged his statement and countered with a punch, several others joined in and chased Freeman back to his house, where he locked himself inside, Budreau said.

Police initially considered this a minor altercation and didn't arrest or cite anyone, Budreau said. However, when the homicide investigation also pointed to Freeman's house, police also charged him with six counts of second-degree disorderly conduct stemming from his behavior on the night of the fire.

Medford police also arrested Omar Salas Ibarra, 20, of White City, on riot and second-degree criminal mischief charges linked to his return to the Beatty Street apartment on Sept. 16. Police said he was among a group who vandalized cars to provoke further conflict with the people they thought had killed their friend.

He also was arrested on a warrant issued after he failed to appear on an unrelated misdemeanor charge.

On Monday, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department added another riot charge against Ibarra linked to his suspected role in a clash at a small local rodeo Sept. 20 in the 2900 block of East Vilas Road in Central Point, sheriff's Lt. Rich Fogarty said.

Fogarty said Omar Ibarra, his 25-year-old brother Alejandro Ibarra, and another 21-year-old man from White City who hasn't been charged yet clashed with a group of rodeo participants, whom they derided as "cowboys." Police said the property owner hosts rodeos to give young people something positive to do.

One man was hit in the head with a metal baseball bat and was treated and released at Providence Medford Medical Center, Fogarty said.

Alejandro Ibarra was arrested Wednesday on a second-degree assault and riot charge linked to that altercation.

Fogarty also noted that investigators suspect the Ibarras were involved in a confrontation involving at least 16 people around midnight on Aug. 9. That fight, which involved a group of Hispanic males approaching and attacking a group of white men and their car, was reported as a gang fight. Witnesses said the Hispanic men wore blue and shouted slogans about Sureños and "South Siders," a local group thought to be affiliated with the Sureños. Two Hispanic gangs with roots in the California penal system — Sureños and Norteños — are believed to be active in the Rogue Valley.

A long list of suspects with some recommended charges has been forwarded to the Jackson County District Attorney's Office, but prosecutors asked for additional information and are still reviewing the case, Fogarty said.

"We are trying to crack down on gang-type activity in White City," Fogarty said, noting that the sheriff's department is working closely with Medford police.

"We share the same problem children," he said. "These groups are associating with or are rivals with groups in Medford."

"They are lying low right now, but they aren't going to go away."

Reach Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail

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