The Guardian Angels are staying in San Francisco's Mission District until at least Friday in the wake of a recent wave of violence in the neighborhood, the head of the group's local chapter said today.
Two fatal shootings and several other violent outbursts occurred over the course of five days last week in the city's Mission District and Potrero Hill neighborhood.
Much of the violence involved apparently gang-related acts of retaliation, police said.
The Police Department stepped up patrols in the area in response, and the Guardian Angels, a national group of red beret-wearing volunteers who patrol neighborhoods to try to increase public safety, also decided to patrol the neighborhood, Joe Salcedo, leader of the group's San Francisco chapter, said.
The group has focused on a stretch of Mission Street between 16th and 24th streets, where they are observing areas known to be crime hot spots, Salcedo said.
"So far it's been calm," he said, saying the group will return to the neighborhood tonight and Friday night, then determine whether they will stay any longer in the area.
Salcedo said the community has responded positively to the presence of the Guardian Angels in their neighborhood.
"We got some good reception from a number of businesses, they're really supportive and we're glad about that," he said. "We're getting a lot of good feedback from everybody."
Salcedo said there have even been a handful of people asking to join the Guardian Angels.
He said the group has had trouble reaching out to members of the Norteno and Sureno gangs believed to be behind the recent violence.
"They're really reluctant right now" to talk, Salcedo said.
Police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza declined to comment on the effect the Guardian Angels have had on the neighborhood, but said the increased police patrols have helped quell the recent violence.
"Of course it's a deterrent when there's more police around," Esparza said. "Our main goal is to reduce crime and let people go about their daily lives."