An Alexandria man stabbed earlier this month may have been the second victim targeted in the last year in the city by a loosely knit group of Salvadorans from the District's Adams-Morgan neighborhood, according to Alexandria police.
Mauro Canas, 18, from the Arlandria section of Alexandria, was found wounded in the 3800 block of Russell Road in the early morning of Dec. 8.
Police said an investigation into the stabbing points to members of a group associated with the Jan. 29 killing of Kelvin Alvarez, a 17-year-old who was shot to death on his parents' front steps in Alexandria's West End.
Before the victims were assaulted, they visited Washington nightclubs frequented by Salvadorans who live in the District, law enforcement sources said.
A police investigation also has determined that Salvadorans from the District visited a nightclub in north Alexandria before the assault on Canas, sources said.
Alexandria law enforcement officials stopped short of calling the Salvadorans part of formal gangs, but said several members of the group come from the same region of El Salvador.
"It could be a feud between a bunch of guys from D.C. and guys from Alexandria who go to the same bar and begin to mouth off," said Capt. Al Levesque. "Then you get some kind of vendetta where they're going to get one another."
Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney S. Randolph Sengel said three members of a District-based Salvadoran group were convicted in the Alvarez slaying.
During the Alvarez investigation, "there was some discussion about the fact that all these kids are from El Salvador, and what they do when they get up here is form gangs loosely based on where they lived in El Salvador," Sengel said. "Then you get these ganglike rivalries. I guess one group doesn't like the other showing up in their bars and dancing with their women."
Sengel said Alvarez was in a fight with a Salvadoran in the District a few days before he was slain.
Although authorities said they believe members of the same group attacked both Alvarez and Canas, they cautioned that the group was not suspected in any other recent assaults in Alexandria.
"When you have these kinds of assaults and someone mentions gangs, people get concerned," Levesque said. "We're always concerned about that, but I can't say we have a hard-core problem here."