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3 recent attacks are related, police say

A third gang attack in 12 days involves a 19-year-old man hit in the head with a bat, police say.

A stabbing, a shooting and an assault with a baseball bat: Police think three gang-related attacks in the past 12 days are connected.

"It's retaliation," said police spokeswoman Lilla Davis-Mays, though police won't say how each incident relates to the others.

The latest incident came Tuesday afternoon when one 19-year-old hit another in the head with a bat, police said.

Jonathan Gonzalez, 19, had stopped his car at a red light at 62nd Avenue N and 16th Street when he was attacked about 2 p.m. Dui Nguyen, 19, of 5610 37th St. N was later jailed on a charge of aggravated battery.

"He walked up to the vehicle and hit Gonzalez on the head with a baseball bat, causing a large laceration," Davis-Mays said.

Gonzalez, who lives on 41st Avenue NE, required medical treatment.

The attack came five days after a shooting at a Vietnamese restaurant.

Phong Thanh Bui, 25, was nicked in the leg by a bullet Thursday afternoon. Bui had been eating inside Pho'97 at 3090 34th St. N when two young men drove up, broke out a window in Bui's car with a bat and fired several rifle shots at Bui.

Matthew Ruark, 17, has been arrested in that shooting. He is charged with aggravated battery.

Ruark's mother, Lynn Shelby of St. Petersburg, wonders whether her son is covering for someone else. But she also wonders whether her son was retaliating because two of his close friends had been stabbed the previous Friday night, Jan. 21, outside Publix supermarket at 3501 49th St. N.

"My son is not a gang member. My son was not there at the stabbing, or else he would have been stabbed, too," Shelby said. "This is never-ending, and it's just getting worse and worse. It's got to stop."

The teens who were stabbed were La L. Som, 19, and Huy Q. "Johnny" Ly, 17, both of whom worked at that Publix. They were both hospitalized.

Police said the disturbance in the Publix parking lot involved perhaps seven or eight other young men who left the scene in three cars.

No one has been arrested in the stabbings _ a fact that frustrates Ruark's mother.

She thinks Som and Ly were stabbed because they and Ruark were witnesses to a shooting incident late last year, and they were scheduled to speak to the State Attorney's Office about what they saw.

"There's got to be an end to this," Shelby said. "It's a mother's worst nightmare come true."

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