Haight shootings spark community outrage

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A series of recent slayings in the lower Haight neighborhood created an uproar among the 100 residents at a packed community meeting with the San Francisco Police Department at the First Friendship Church.

A sense that crime in the neighborhood is spiraling out of control appeared to pervade the church community room at Oak and Steiner streets. “I don’t care whose fault it is, just fix it,” Gabe Colaluca implored.

At about 9:15 a.m. Tuesday, gunshots rang out at the corner of Webster and Haight streets as an unidentified male shot a woman who normally sleeps on the steps of a nearby church, Northern Station Capt. Kevin Dillon said.

The suspect, described as a male, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 170 pounds and wearing a camouflage jacket, ran off toward the Hayes Valley South public housing project, Dillon said.

The police report stated that the suspect had an altercation with the woman, Dillon said, but he said other witness reports indicated she might have been shot by accident. Police did not release details of the woman’s condition.

Earlier this month, two young men were shot in the 400 block of Haight Street after an altercation with two other young men. On Saturday, Jamal Smith, 20, of San Francisco, was shot and killed in the 1100 block of Eddy Street. Police later arrested a 16-year-old boy from Richmond in that killing.

Dillon explained to the crowd the measures his station is taking to address the spike in violence, including using motorcycle officers, surveillance cameras, plainclothes officers, tactical units and foot patrols to saturate the area. He also described how the department passes police reports on to Housing Authority management in order to identify tenants who may be breaking the law.

Chief Heather Fong, who addressed the room following Dillon, pledged to track criminal cases that stem from the public housing projects.

Neighbors voiced mixed opinions regarding the Hayes Valley North and South housing projects near the famous “Painted Ladies” of Alamo Square. Some complained that there was no enforcement of San Francisco Housing Authority policies banning those convicted of narcotics violations from living in the projects. Others argued for intervention within the projects.

“The people on the inside are hostages,” Sandra Bolton, a representative of Hayes Valley North, said before the crowded room. “No one is willing to come in on that development and say, ‘Here’s how you get a job. Here’s how you write a résumé.’”

Some in attendance, however, expressed tentative support for some of The City’s preventative measures, such as the city-mandated foot patrol and the surveillance cameras.

amartin@examiner.com

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