City: Homicide rate part of larger trend

City officials played down The City’s highest yearly homicide total in the last decade on Monday, calling it part of a greater national phenomenon and a product of random violence.

A fatal double shooting over the weekend brought the total number of homicide victims to 96 with less than two weeks left in the year — an increase overlast year’s tally of 85 and equal to the decade high in 2005.

On Monday evening, police said a 24-year-old man was fatally shot in the Bayview district, which, if verified, would be the 97th homicide of the year. Officers found the victim lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to his abdomen in the 100 block of Kiska Road about 4:46 p.m., San Francisco police said.

A spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office said the mayor is doing “everything he can” to get more police officers on The City’s streets.

“The rise in homicides is unacceptable to the mayor and he is doing everything he can to keep our streets safe,” spokesman Nathan Ballard said.

According to a report summarizing each homicide this year, beginning with the first of two New Year’s Day slayings on Sunnydale Avenue, the Bayview district had the most homicides in The City — 23 out of 96 — for the fourth straight year.

Gang violence motivated 19 of the homicides this year and 20 were drug-related, according to the Dec. 10 report produced by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice for a meeting of the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee.

At that meeting, police and city officials said the number of deaths that resulted from random and anonymous disputes — 28 — was surprising.

Mikail Ali, acting director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice told supervisors that disputes, especially ones that originate in a nightclub or bar and spill out onto the streets, were difficult to predict and investigate. He added that people involved in random fights tend not to know each other, making it difficult to track down a killer.

Ali said that for the 277 homicides in the last three years, there are currently 70 people facing charges in connection to those murders in San Francisco Superior Court.

The Police Department and the Mayor’s Office were also quick to point out that San Francisco is not alone in regard to violent crime.

“Big-city murders are up,” police spokesman Sgt. Steve Mannina said. “San Francisco is not alone in seeing a rise in homicides. There’s been an increase nationwide.”

The Police department has added more gang task force officers and police are targeting more drug dealers, said Mannina, who added that compared with past years, such as 1977 when 141 people were murdered in San Francisco, this year’s count is nothing to panic about.

“This is 96 too many, but far from a record,” he said.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

bbegin@examiner.com

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