Double shooting pushes grim toll

The City’s ever-increasing homicide count reached a sobering benchmark early Saturday morning with the fatal shootings of two men in the Mission district, pushing the unofficial tally to 96 and tying the 2005 mark for the highest yearly total in a decade.

San Francisco residents Jose Camara, 21, and Jaiber Carballo, 20, identified Sunday by the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office, were shot around 5 a.m. when two male suspects in their 20s driving southbound on South Van Ness Avenue saw them standing on the sidewalk, San Francisco police Officer Ed O’Toole said.

Camara and Carballo were talking to two women near the corner of 18th Street and South Van Ness when the suspects exited their vehicle and shot them, O’Toole said.

The suspects fled in the vehicle southbound on Capp Street, O’Toole said. The gang task force was called to the scene along with several other units, but police have not determined the motivation behind the killings, O’Toole said.

The homicide count has continued to rise this year despite a number of police measures implemented in recent years. After a decline that bucked national trends in 2006, The City finished that year with 85 homicides, a drop of 11 from 2005, which saw a 10-year high of 96. With the two fatal shootings Saturday, this year’s homicide count unofficially ties the 2005 mark, though the number can fluctuate as cases are investigated and potentially classified as something other than a homicide, such as a suspicious death or justifiable homicide.

Since 2005, The City has put in place a number of strategies to cut its homicide and other violent-crime rates. Mayor Gavin Newsom included funding for more classes of police recruits and the department started an aggressive hiring campaign. In 2006, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi passed legislation requiring officers to walk beats. The City has tried using technology — in the form of surveillance cameras — to curb crime, but homicides continue to rise.

“The mayor is saddened to hear this news,” Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard said. “He is doing everything he can to put more police officers on the beat so that our streets are safe.”

The San Francisco Police Department could not be reached for comment Sunday evening.

Fighting Crime

A look at the community policing initiatives The City has instituted in the years leading up to this year’s near-decade-high homicide total.

» Beat patrol program: Though approved by the Board of Supervisors, beat officers were not deployed until November 2006.

» Crime cameras: The first city-run crime cameras were installed in 2005. Police have arrested one man using footage. Two men have been exonerated using video.

» Gang injunctions: City Attorney Dennis Herrera instituted gang-free zones in 2006. Now, The City’s Mission, Western Addition and Bayview neighborhoods use the tactic.

» Boundary lines: Instituted a mandatory program that examines police district station boundaries. Boundary lines have yet to be redrawn.

» Staffing levels: Numerous campaigns to increase staffing levels at the Police Department, as well as a 25 percent pay raise for officers over the next four years.

Wire services contributed to this report.

bliou@examiner.com

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