The arrests of five men suspected in two separate killings in Riverside led to a gang-takedown spanning three counties, authorities said Saturday.
Detectives investigating a shooting and two killings last year believe the same gang was behind all three crimes, which each occurred along El Sol Way in the Casa Blanca neighborhood of Riverside, according to police.
The first was a Jan. 26, 2019, shooting in the 7400 block of El Sol Way, which police described as a case of attempted murder. On Feb. 8, a 22-year-old man named Jordan Love was brutally assaulted and left with a fatal head injury. Then, on Sept. 1, Moreno Valley father and neighborhood handyman William Calderon was fatally shot while parked on El Sol Way.
Calderon was found dead in the driver’s seat of a vehicle in the 7400 block of El Sol Way, according to police.
The first of the homicide arrests came in May, when investigators identified 25-year-old Kelvin Trayvone Taylor of Riverside as the suspect in Love’s killing. Taylor was taken into custody at a Mira Loma shopping center on May 1 and is awaiting trial, police said.
Between Oct. 3 and Dec. 31, four men were arrested in Calderon’s death — Jeffrey Taylor, 24; Edward Russell Smith, 21; Russell Wilkerson, 29; and Rueben Kelly, 23.
Smith was taken into custody after authorities first tracked him down in Oklahoma.
The four men — each of whom is from Riverside, except Kelly, who is from Hemet — were all charged with murder, including special allegations of murder with the use of a firearm, gang conspiracy and gang enhancements, according to the Riverside Police Department.
Since detectives suspected a single gang was linked to all three crimes, Riverside authorities enlisted the help of the state Department of Justice’s Special Operations Unit — a force specifically focused on gang crime, instrastate drug trafficking and organized crime.
State investigators worked with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and local police to serve search warrants at several homes of alleged gang members, leading to a wider scale takedown on Jan. 16, 2020, dubbed “Operation Blocc Buster.”
Authorities served warrants and performed probation- and parole-related searches at 17 locations, arresting 11 people and seizing a total of 15 firearms including two assault rifles. Two and a half pounds of weed and $4,500 in cash were also among the seized items.
Those taken into custody as part of the bust include 10 men and one woman who range from 18- to 59-years-old, according to police. Three of the men are suspect of robbery, including one also accused of kidnapping, while the others face less serious allegations such as possession of marijuana for illegal sales, illegal possession of an assault rifle and other weapons violations.