Four members of a street gang accused in the killing of a Riverside handyman, who was gunned down at random, pleaded not guilty Thursday to first-degree murder.

Ruben Leon Kelly, 25, Edward Russell Smith, 59, Jeffrey Edward Taylor, 25, and Russell Alvon Wilkerson, 29, all of Riverside, were arrested last month during a crackdown by local and state authorities dubbed “Operation Blocc Buster.”

All four are documented members of a local street gang, according to authorities.

Along with murder, each defendant is charged with a special circumstance allegation of killing for the benefit of a criminal street gang for the Sept. 1, 2019, slaying of 37-year-old William Calderon.

“We recovered video depicting the shooting,” Riverside police Lt. Charles Payne said during a Jan. 17 news briefing. “There were gang members coaching the shooter, who was told to target the next vehicle going down the street. It could have been anyone.”

Calderon had just finished working on his van and was test-driving it when he was shot to death, according to police.

The sweep that netted Kelly, Smith, Taylor and Wilkerson also resulted in nine other arrests, removing what Riverside police Detective Bryon Adcox described as the upper echelon of the gang.

“We took down the majority of the major players, people telling other people what to do,” Adcox said. “This is going to be a pretty big hit against the gang.”

Charges filed against the other nine defendants included attempted murder, conspiracy, drug dealing and possession of prohibited firearms.

Operation Blocc Buster was initiated following a month-long investigation involving the Riverside Police Department, California Department of Justice and the California Highway Patrol. County prosecutors also took part, preparing complaints based on evidence gathered during the investigation.

The sweep led to the seizure of four rifles — among which were two assault weapons — and 10 handguns, according to Payne.

Along with the Calderon killing, police arrested gang members allegedly involved in a Jan. 26 shooting at a residence where the defendants were partying. Detectives allege that when a woman screamed at them to quiet down, they shot her multiple times. The victim survived.

Kelly, Smith, Taylor and Wilkerson are each being held without bail at detention facilities countywide.

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