Kalamazoo police investigating sudden surge in violence

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Three people have been shot and killed since Thursday, sending a wave of panic through some city neighborhoods.

"Obviously pretty unusual for Kalamazoo to have three separate and independent homicides in a five-day period," said Police Chief Jeff Hadley with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety. "A little concerning, you know. They’re not connected."

The first shooting was last Thursday night when Zachary Patten allegedly shot and killed Graciela Esparza at a mobile home park on Tray Lane.  She was an innocent bystander, shot during an argument that broke out among people there. Patten also later allegedly shot and killed a man in St. Joseph County.

Over the weekend, Thomas Anders, a Battle Creek man, was shot and killed in the 800 block of Oakland Drive.  A person-of-interest in that case was taken into custody on Saturday on unrelated charges.

"These aren’t people that we’ve known about that are on our radar that we discuss or anything like that," said Chief Hadley during an interview at headquarters. "Pretty unfortunate for the community."

Then, Tuesday morning, Gabriel Juarez Montanez was shot and killed in a parking lot in the 1300 block of Portage Street.  Police are searching for a suspect in that crime.

"Our detective bureau is working extremely hard," said Chief Hadley. "They’re pretty tired right now, coming in as much as they have over the last 5 days. They’re working hard trying to put the cases together."

Chief Jeff Hadley says the cases are still open and under investigation.  Anyone with information should call the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety at 269-337-8994 or Silent Observer at 269-343-2100.

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