STERLING – In the wake of a recent string of shootings believed to be gang-related, Sterling Police and officers from other agencies arrested four people and are looking for four others believed to have gang ties.
Eighteen officers from six area departments conducted warrant sweeps Thursday, checking about 20 homes in Sterling, Dixon and Rock Falls for people wanted for a variety of suspected violations, from crimes to probation violations to failures to appear in court, according to a news release and to Sterling Police Lt. Doug Fargher.
Although the recent shootings at homes in Sterling, in which one man was shot twice in the stomach, are suspected to be gang-related, not everyone arrested is suspected of being involved, Fargher said.
“A few people were not suspects in the shooting,” Fargher said. “They had an association with gang members. They were on a target list.
“Just because we were looking for individuals, [I’m] not saying that they are suspected of shootings.”
Arrested Thursday were:
– Matthew McCullough, 19, of Sterling, in the 700 block of West 18th Street, Rock Falls, on a Whiteside County warrant for probation violation for possession of cannabis.
– Shane Perez, 25, address unknown, arrested in Lee County on a Whiteside County warrant for a failure to appear in court and possession of cannabis.
– Justin M. Villegas, 20, of Sterling, spotted as a passenger in a car and arrested in an alley near Wallace School in Sterling after the driver tried to elude officers, police say. He was wanted on two warrants for Whiteside County probation violation and possession of a controlled substance, on an Ogle County warrant for failure to appear in court and a possession of drug paraphernalia.
– Matthew Perales, 20, of Sterling, who was driving the car Villegas was in and who fled on foot but was caught after a brief chase, police say. Perales was wanted on three warrants including an Illinois Department of Corrections warrant for the unlawful use/ possession of weapon; Whiteside County warrant for theft and Whiteside County warrant for failure to appear in court on a felon possession/ use of a weapon charge.
Arrested on the Avenue G bridge in Sterling after police say they were spotted leaving a suspect’s home were:
– Deborah S. Jackson, 41, of Amboy.
She was charged with possession of a controlled substance, suspected crack cocaine; possession of a controlled substance, hydrocodone pills and possession of drug paraphernalia.
– Hope K. Chandler, 43, of Amboy. She was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, suspected crack cocaine; possession of a controlled substance, hydrocodone pills and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Police are looking for:
– Skyler Briggs, 21, of Sterling, charged with obstructing a peace officer. He is white, 5-foot-10 inches, 195 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
– Ryan Chavez, 20, of Sterling, wanted on a Whiteside County warrant for burglary. He is Latino, 5-foot-8-inches, 200 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.
– Jesse M. Perez, 24, of Dixon, wanted on a Whiteside County warrant for possession of a controlled substance, a Lee County warrant for assault and a Bureau County warrant for driving under the influence.
He is Latino, 5-foot-11-inches, 190 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.
– Mario “Rocky” Perez, 27, of Sterling, wanted on a Whiteside County warrant for failure to appear on a traffic offense. He is Latino, 5-foot-11-inches, 180 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.
Fargher called the operation a success.
“It was successful not only in who was arrested but also in the push back that the community should see and people with gang affiliations should take note of,” he said.
“We are going to pay a little higher attention to those people if they are going to try to negatively impact the community.”
In addition to Sterling Police, the Rock Falls and Dixon Police Departments, the Whiteside County Sheriff’s office, the Illinois Department of Corrections parole agents and Whiteside County Court Services probation officers participated in the sweep.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the four people police are looking for should not approach them, but are asked to call the Sterling Police Department at 815-632-6640 or Crime Stoppers, the anonymous reward hot line, at 815-625-7867.