A spike in alleged Mission district gang violence continues to add to The City’s homicide rate as a husband and wife shot in a car Thursday night with their 4-month-old daughter in the back seat are now being investigated as homicides.
A man identified by friends only as Giovanni is expected to be taken off of life support after being shot in the head Thursday evening at 18th and Bryant streets. His wife was also critically injured in the shooting and police Sgt. Wilfred Williams said they are both being investigated as homicides; the 4-month-old was unharmed.
The shooting victims mark The City’s 72nd and 73rd homicides of the year — though a Tenderloin district stabbing Aug. 15 is still being investigated as a suspicious death. At the same time last year, there were 80 homicides.
Earlier this week, both Mayor Gavin Newsom and police Chief Heather Fong credited a drop in homicides and violent crime from last year as proof that a strategy of concentrating officers in certain violent areas is working. But residents in and around the Mission say there is a tension they haven’t felt in years.
In the past two weeks, there have been at least nine homicides citywide, eight in the Mission alone. Less than four hours after the husband and wife were shot, three people were shot on the corner of 24th and Utah streets. San Francisco resident Noel Espinoza, 19, and San Mateo County resident Matthew Solomon, 23, were killed. A third victim, a black female, was sent to the hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.
On Saturday night, a near-fatal shooting at 23rd and Arkansas streets in Potrero Hill injured two men. A suspect approached the car on foot and began shooting about 9:15 p.m., Williams said.
Earlier Saturday, about 4:45 a.m., one Hispanic man was shot as he walked with three friends along 23rd Street and Treat Avenue. The shooting occurred at the same intersection where 18-year-old Jorge Hurtado was killed Aug. 24 and one block away from where Mark Guardado Sr., the 45-year old president of the San Francisco branch of the Hells Angels motorcycle club, was killed.
On Friday, officers responded to McAllister and Fillmore streets in the Western Addition about 7:15 p.m., where 18-year-old Joshua Cameron was shot and killed. Police are searching for an unknown black male suspect, possibly in his 20s.
The latest violence occurred despite beefed-up patrols by the Police Department in the Mission, including overtime, foot-patrol officers, squad cars and specialized units. The increased police presence there was in effect by Thursday night but didn’t prevent the shooting of Giovanni and his wife or the double homicide that occurred less than four hours later.
Mission merchants and residents were pleading for change Sunday evening during a peace vigil.
“It’s pretty intense,” said Erick Arguello, president of the Lower 24th Street Merchant & Neighborhood Association. “It’s like there’s a war out here. Some merchants are talking about getting guns for their own protection.”
Eight of the last nine homicide cases being investigated by police, as well as a number of shootings, have occurred in the Mission district:
1. Aug. 22: Samuel Mitchell, 47, fatally shot at 26th and Folsom streets
2. Aug. 24: Jorge Hurtado, 18, fatally shot at 23rd Street and Treat Avenue
3. Sept. 1: Marcelino Canul-Castro fatally shot at San Carlos and 18th streets
4. Tuesday: Mark Guardado, president of the San Francisco Hells Angels chapter, fatally shot near 24th Street and Treat Avenue
5. Thursday: Noel Espinoza, 19, and Matthew Solomon, 23, fatally shot at Utah and 24th streets; unidentified husband and wife investigated as homicides after shooting at 18th and Bryant streets
6. Friday: Joshua Cameron, 18, fatally shot at McAllister and Fillmore streets in Western Addition
7. Saturday: One injured in a shooting at 23rd Street and Treat Avenue
8. Saturday: Two men shot inside a car at 23rd and Arkansas streets (nonfatal)
“There’s a whole culture of violence that is very attractive to young people.”
Tim Otto, San Francisco, assistant pastor at Sojourners Church
“To offer a way out of the gang life is a real challenge.”