Escalating gang war bedevils Mission District

Police say a war between rival gangs has erupted in the Mission, resulting in a bloody wave of violence that has left one man dead and several others severely injured.

In the past two weeks, there have been at least six incidents of gang-related violence, believed to have been sparked by Sureño graffiti appearing on Norteño turf near 19th and Bryant streets Feb. 18, according to police.

Since then, there have been four shootings and two stabbings, police said. A 24-year-old man, Aldo Troncoso, was killed in one of the shootings, early Saturday morning at 17th and Mission streets, which is considered Sureño territory. Another occurred in broad daylight Wednesday.

“It’s a fact right now that we’re having a gang war between the Norteños and the Sureños in the Mission district,” police Capt. Mike Biel told the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee on Thursday.

Biel said captains in the Mission and neighboring Bayview and Ingleside police districts are developing plans to address the violence, including using tactical and traffic teams and bolstering police presence on the streets with both plainclothes and uniformed officers. Also, police are working with community groups.

Supervisor David Campos, whose district includes the Mission, said the violence has residents on edge.

“There’s a lot of tension and anxiety around what’s happening, and rightly so,” Campos said.

Police will be monitoring a wake for Troncoso today in the Mission. His funeral is scheduled for Saturday.

“We want to interrupt the vicious cycle of retaliation,” said Mission  Police Station Capt. Greg Corrales. “We want to de-escalate the situation, because up until recently things in the Mission district have been very calm in reference to gangs.”

On Thursday afternoon, young men lighting candles at a sidewalk memorial for Troncoso declined to speak about the shooting, but nearby workers said the violence has worsened.

“It’s going to be here for a while,” said one young woman, a sales clerk at a cell phone store across the street from Troncoso’s memorial. The woman, who asked that her name not be printed, said her brother-in-law was mistaken for a Norteño gang member and fatally shot by Sureños in the Mission district three years ago.

“Mainly it starts as the tagging — ‘Oh, they’re in our territory,’” she said. “Then it’s the drive-bys, the shootings, the stabbings. I don’t think it’s going to end.”

Faris Oran, a clerk at the Danah Enterprise Smoke Shop next door, said despite the “drama,” business has been “regular.”

“This is every day, man,” Oran said. “We get used to it.”

Oran said folks in the area have learned to work around the criminal element.

“It’s only gang members,” he said. “Blue and red and all that. We’re only people, we’re not with them or against them. This is the Mission.”

Intensifying violence

Gang-related incidents have increased in the Mission in recent weeks.

Feb. 18: Sureño graffiti tagged in Norteño territory near 19th and Bryant streets.
Feb. 21: A group of suspects asks another group at 22nd and Mission streets what gang they claimed. After responding that they are not gang members, the victims are punched and stabbed.
Feb. 26: A Sureño gang member is confronted by four Norteños in the
3000 block of 16th Street and stabbed nine times.
Feb. 26: Sureño gang member Aldo Troncoso, 24, is fatally shot at about
2:30 a.m. at 17th and Mission streets.
Feb. 27: A man who had just moved from San Leandro is sitting in a car at Alabama and Cesar Chavez streets when he is approached and asked what gang he claimed. The man, who is not a gang member, is shot in the neck.
March 2: A Norteño gang member is shot at about noon at 24th and Harrison streets.
Source: Police Department

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