Special force may stem S.F. murders

The shooting death of a 24-year-old Oakland man across the street from the Hall of Justice comes as the San Francisco Police Department considers forming a team of officers to concentrate on stemming the growing homicide rate.

Ernesto Williams became The City’s seventh killing of the year late Friday night. He was filling up his car at a Chevron gas station at Sixth and Harrison streets about 10:40 p.m. when a suspect exited a vehicle, believed to be a gold Honda or Lexus, approached Williams and started shooting, according to police. An unidentified woman in her 20s was also shot.

Both victims were taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where Williams died from his injuries, police said. The homicide comes as police attempt to address last year’s homicide tally of 98, which was the highest in more than a decade.

Earlier this month, the department beefed up uniformed patrols by reassigning dozens of plainclothes officers to patrol the streets, Lt. John Murphy of the homicide detail told the Police Commission Wednesday. But the saturation effort is a short-term solution, so the department is proposing a permanent force of about 40 officers to focus on high-crime areas and repeat offenders.

The detail of uniformed officers would focus on parolees or people on probation. Police are allowed to search criminals on probation or parole and hope they can catch somebody with a gun before it ever gets fired, Murphy said.

Of all the homicide victims of last year, 65 had an average of more than 13 felony arrests, Murphy said. The 44 murder suspects arrested last year had an average of 16 felony arrests each.

“We know who does a lot of the crime,” Murphy said. “It’s proving it that’s hard.”

Beginning with the first of two New Year’s Day slayings on Sunnydale Avenue, the Bayview district had 29 homicides, the most in The City for the fourth straight year. The Ingleside and Mission districts had the second and third most homicides, respectively.

Murphy said 16 homicides in 2007 were motivated by gang violence and 19 were drug-related, but what he said is the most surprising factor for the amount of deadly violence this year is disputes, of which 30 ended in death last year.

bbegin@examiner.com

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