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A memorial to two victims of gun violence is seen in the Parchester Village neighborhood in Richmond, Calif. on Monday, April 22, 2013. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group)

RICHMOND -- Gunfire and bloodshed rocked one of the city's most distinctive enclaves twice in less than 48 hours last week.

By Monday morning, a curbside memorial, frayed nerves and heartbroken family and friends remained. Meanwhile, police were trying to piece together clues from the shootings, which they think were related.

"We are just trying to pick up the pieces," said Chana Holly, the aunt of one of the teenage siblings ambushed and gunned down Thursday. "We don't even know when and where the funeral is going to be yet."

Mercedes Williams, 19, and her brother Airian Holly, 16, were standing outside a home with a group of others in the 4100 block of McGlothen Way when two men walked up at 9:44 p.m. and began firing, according to Richmond police. The shooters then fired on an approaching car before jumping into another car and fleeing. Two nights later, a 24-year-old man was shot several times as he sat in his car in the 600 block of Harrison Street. The victim hit the gas to escape and came to rest on McGlothen Way, near where the teens were killed.

The man was flown to a local trauma center with bullet wounds in his torso and hip but is expected to survive.

Witnesses reported that two black males fled in a white SUV, said Richmond Capt. Mark Gagan.


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"We're confident the two shootings are related," Gagan said. "There's a lot of rumor, but no clear motive has emerged."

The spate of violence marks an unhappy break in a long period of relative calm in the historic neighborhood.

Built in the 1950s and with streets named for revered African-American clergy, Parchester Village was one of the first neighborhoods in Richmond where African-Americans were allowed to buy houses. The development comprises about 400 single-family homes nestled just west of Richmond Parkway, between the marshes south of Point Pinole and the verdant hills of the Richmond Country Club.

Today, Parchester is also home to many new immigrants, especially Latinos.

Thursday's homicides were the first in Parchester Village since December 2011, when a 46-year-old man was shot.

"It's a neighborhood that has really improved," Gagan said. "The recent violence is an unfortunate setback."

Twelve homicides have occurred in Parchester in the past decade, according to department statistics, but just two from 2007 to 2012. Two homicides were recorded each year from 2003 to 2006.

"Parchester was not unlike a lot of neighborhoods with active hot spots and open-air, street-level drug dealing in the past," said Deputy Chief Allwyn Brown. "That has largely gone away, and violence was way down. It's a close-knit community."

Councilman Corky Boozé, a longtime advocate for the neighborhood, said Monday he was "disgusted" with the recent violence.

Boozé said he was concerned that after a double-homicide on Thursday, another shooting could occur two nights later in the tiny neighborhood -- which has only two exits -- and the shooters could again escape.

"I am going to have a conversation with chief (Chris Magnus)," Boozé said. "I want to know how this happened, and how we are going to take a more aggressive approach."

Gagan said special gang units are ramping up their presence on the streets and that detectives Sunday arrested two men on suspicion of crimes unrelated to the shootings and seized an assault rifle and two handguns in Parchester Village.

Brown said traditional neighborhood rivalries may not be in play in the recent violence, but instead may reflect disputes between individuals and families.

"We'll continue to ramp up," Brown said. "We are really countering what feels like the beginnings of back and forth escalation."

Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726 or rrogers@bayareanewsgroup.com and follow Twitter.com/roberthrogers