Shootings are down in San Francisco but shooting deaths are up, and a recent surge in gang-related violence has raised community concerns.
The Oceanview, Lake Merced and Ingleside areas have seen five street violence homicides this year, plus a murder-suicide and the slaying of five people inside a home. That is up from last year’s total of just two.
A possibly “gang-motivated” May homicide on the 100 block of Broad Street in the Oceanview neighborhood seems to have set in motion some of the recent Sunnydale homicides, police Cmdr. John Loftus said at a Thursday hearing of the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee.
Two members of a rival gang were arrested for the shooting and the case was turned over to the district attorney for prosecution, Loftus said.
“There has been some gang rivalry between Sunnydale and Randolph Street,” he said. “We have a number of gangs in The City and we do have turf type of violence that occurs frequently.”
But despite this flare-up, homicides are about half of those in 2007 and 2008, when the number of killings reached 98 each year. This year, there have been 41 homicides. In 2011, there were 50.
“Gun violence is down 5 percent in San Francisco, that’s the true bellwether of how we are doing,” police Chief Greg Suhr said. “Now, unfortunately, homicides by gun violence are up by 5 percent. Even though we’ve had less people shot, more people have died as a result of those shootings.”
At this time last year, there were 136 shootings and 20 shooting-related homicides, according to department data. This year, there have been 130 shootings and 25 shooting-related homicides.
Suhr said his department’s response to the violence has seemingly been effective. “It was a tough June,” he said.
“It’s been a much better July. July has been markedly less violent.”
The rash of violence prompted Mayor Ed Lee to suggest last month that The City consider a stop-and-frisk policy like that of New York City. The board recently denounced the policy as encouraging racial profiling.
Suhr said he recently spoke to a number of ministers who offered to act as community go-betweens to lead cops to guns or provide crime information.
“I assured the ministers if they would relay that information it would be without attribution,” Suhr said. “We just want to get the guns. If we got guns without any arrests, that would be fine too. We just want the guns off the street. No guns means less gun violence. We really do need to get to the guns.”
Supervisor and committee Chairman John Avalos, who called the hearing, said he was concerned about the pace of four killings in four months and their impact on the black community.
An earlier version of this story contained an error, which was corrected.
Our July 27 story about a recent surge in gang-related violence mistated the number of homicides in The City this year. Although we stated that there have 25 homicides this year, there actually have been 41 homicides, 25 of which were gun-related.