SOUTH BEND -- Police are looking into whether a recent string of youth-related violence is connected in any way.
During a violent stretch since March 31, five teenagers have been shot during three separate incidents in the city.
The most recent was a drive-by shooting that occurred early Friday morning in the 1000 block of California Avenue that injured a 19-year-old man and left a 16-year-old male youth in critical condition.
The investigation, which is being handled by the St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit, is ongoing. No arrests have been made.
The 19-year-old victim was treated and released from an area hospital, while the 16-year-old was listed in serious condition Monday, according to the St. Joseph County prosecutor's office, which declined to release their names at this time.
Meanwhile, on April 4, an 18-year-old man was shot in the right arm while walking near the intersection of Huey Street and Elwood Avenue about 12:30 a.m. He told police that a vehicle drove up and someone got out of the car and began firing shots.
The suspect vehicles in both the California Avenue and Huey Street incidents were described as dark colored.
And on March 31, a gunman reportedly jumped on stage during a informal teen prom called "Swag Fest" at Century Center and began firing into the crowd, striking a 17-year-old Mishawaka female in the neck and a 20-year-old South Bend man in the leg. Neither of their injuries are life-threatening.
The cases have caught the attention of South Bend detectives.
"We're going to look to see if there is a connection," South Bend Det. Sgt. Ian McQueen said of the cases. "We're pursuing all avenues. It's the early stages of our investigation.
"But it's far too early to say."
McQueen added whenever there is one such act of youth violence, it can often have a spiraling effect.
"We have seen a little spike," he said. "It's not usual to see so many in a concentrated time. I hope it's a coincidence."
There also have been three teenagers killed by gunfire this year.
Christopher Simril, 18, was shot and killed during an incident Feb. 26 at Walker Field Park on the south side. No arrests have been made.
And Jazmin Conlee and Alejandro Tinoco, both 19, died from gunshot wounds from a shooting at a home in the 1100 block of North Adams Street on Jan. 25. Three people were arrested in connection with the case.
Staff writer Tom Moor: