In response to a spate of shootings in a gritty part of The City that includes the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods, police have stepped up patrols and deployed more gang task force officers.
Since late May, there have been at least five shootings — four of which police say are gang-related — along or near the Market and Sixth street corridors, with bystanders sometimes caught in the crossfire.
Noting that gangs are active throughout The City, police Lt. Troy Dangerfield said the cause of the recent uptick in shootings is uncertain.
“I don’t know whether it has to do with summer and school’s out,” he said.
But in response, police have added high-visibility patrols and additional plainclothes officers as needed, Dangerfield said. They also have deployed a mobile command van parked on Sixth Street between Market and Mission streets from early morning until just before midnight. It was brought there following a June 16 shooting in which a bystander was struck in the ear by gang members targeting rivals at Sixth and Minna streets.
Following delays in an effort to set up a police substation near Sixth and Minna streets, Dangerfield said the mobile unit allows officers to be stationed in the area, take reports and interact with the public.
“We’re not waiting for the substation,” Dangerfield said. “We’re already doing what we want to do today.”
Officers stationed in the van said the constant police presence appears to be making an impact on low-level crime, including drinking in public and open-air drug dealing.
“Our van is kind of like a repellent,” Officer James Tacchini said.
But whether the mobile unit will have an effect on violence in the area is probably too early to say.
“It definitely helps,” Officer Adam Eatia said. “We still have the same mission. And that mission is to clean up Sixth Street.”
Dangerfield cited a June 25 daylight shootout between rival Bayview gang members near Seventh and Market streets as an example of the quick response now possible. Officers were on the scene within moments of the shooting and arrested two suspects, an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old.
“Gang task force has flexed their hours to be where there may be potential problems,” Dangerfield said. “When you get them out there, they can just look and know immediately what groups are operating there.”
Recent shootings in the Tenderloin and South of Market
Two people, ages 20 and 22, hit by gunfire in 2 a.m. gang shooting at Sixth and Minna streets
Boy is wounded in 4:30 p.m. gang shooting near Fifth and Market streets
Dispute between alleged members of Asian and black gangs erupts in 7:35 a.m. shooting at Sixth and Minna streets; 43-year-old male bystander is shot in ear
Alleged rival members of Bayview gangs engage in 6:15 p.m. shootout near Market and Seventh streets, injuring five people, including four bystanders
Two people shot, one of them a bystander, at Ellis and Jones streets at 7:45 p.m.; shooting is not believed to be gang-related