OCEANSIDE — “God loves you Primo. And I love you too,” said Martin Englebrecht as a family member prepared to testify against him recently during his attempted murder trial.
On April 15, Oceanside police Sgt. Adam Knowland walked jurors through the inner workings of gang life, in particular the details relating to Varrio Posole Locos, a third-generation Oceanside gang, which prosecutors allege Englebrecht belongs to.
Knowland said Englebrecht’s spontaneous comments to his family member, whose name has been withheld to protect his identity, were a reminder to “remember where you’re from” and an attempt to dissuade his relative from testifying.
The family member, who is facing a prison sentence relating to federal crimes, agreed to testify against Englebrecht in an attempt to lessen his potential sentence. Englebrecht, 33, is on trial for the alleged attempted murder of his neighbor and two other teenagers in what prosecutors believe was a mistaken retaliatory gang attack more than two years ago.
If convicted, Englebrecht faces up to life in prison.
Knowland said the Varrio Posole Locos or Posole is a predominately Hispanic street gang with its origins rooted in three Oceanside families — the Englebrechts, the Morenos and the Jaimes. The Posole gang has approximately 300 members, a good portion of whom are related, and operates in the Eastside neighborhood, he said.
“You become aware of that gang the first day you start,” Knowland testified. Additionally, he said the gang has ties to the Mexican Mafia, a Hispanic prison gang predominately located in Southern California correctional facilities.
Oceanside has 13 criminal street gangs, five of which are Hispanic, Knowland said.
Englebrecht lived on Parkside Drive in a duplex located near Fireside Park. His neighbor in the duplex was teenager Dareius Berry and his family. Berry identified Englebrecht as the man who shot him on the evening of April 15, 2007.
Berry was shot in the thigh, shin and hand. Two of the teenager’s friends also received nonlife-threatening gunshot wounds during the attack in which Berry said Englebrecht and several other unidentified men opened fire on them as they walked in the 500 block of Fredricks Avenue, less than a mile from Fireside Park.
None of the victims in this case were affiliated with a criminal street gang. The area around Fireside Park is the turf of a rival Posole gang, and it is where Berry witnessed Englebrecht get assaulted by rival gang members several hours before the shooting occurred.
Knowland said the shooting was a “mandatory” retaliatory hit for the earlier beating Englebrecht received. The assault was a disrespect to not only Englebrecht but the Posole gang and the only way for the gang and its members not to appear weak was to retaliate, the sergeant said.
Englebrecht remains in custody on $1 million bail. He has denied any involvement in the shooting.