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Wenatchee police brace for gang retaliation

Towns across the Northwest have been struggling with what police say is a resurgence of gang activity. Gang tensions are running especially high this week in Wenatchee, Wash. The town’s small police force is racing to solve an arson-homicide that killed two children.

It started on August 4th, when a fire broke out at a duplex in Wenatchee known to be a hangout for one local street gang. Two boys, ages four and six, died. The police decided to make a plea directly to the targeted gang: please don't retaliate.

And it seemed gang members didn't.

But this Wednesday the situation got worse. At a post-funeral gathering for the two boys killed in the fire, a gunman, likely from the same rival gang, shot at mourners.

Sgt. John Kruse with the Wenatchee police gang unit says his department has thrown all its resources into solving the arson and suppressing any retaliation.

"You know in a situation like this I'm sure in their mind, it's getting difficult not to strike back," Kruse says. "And I'm sure that's what they're feeling. So we're sending our message to them. But it's tough."

There were no injuries in Wednesday's shooting. The father of the two boys remains in a hospital in Seattle.

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.