Needless violence plagues streets

Recent days in the Bay Area have seen a near-unprecedented outbreak of murderous gunfire. Seven people in Oakland were fatally shot during the weekend, in apparently unrelated incidents around that city. Then on a sunny Sunday afternoon in San Francisco’s Excelsior district, a minor traffic confrontation suddenly erupted into a hail of bullets that killed a father of four and his two eldest sons.

And on Monday, the Peninsula had its first triple slaying since 2005, with three men killed in a possible home invasion of a gun-filled house on a quiet street in unincorporated Redwood City.

From what is presently known about the Bay Area’s three-day bloodbath, what most of these killings have in common is that they were committed by armed young men acting in impulsive rage over insignificant confrontations. Such things would not be happening in a community unless the bonds of civilized behavior were badly frayed.

As The Examiner found itself saying in this space in mid-January, “There is no wake-up call like the shock of a good person being pointlessly slaughtered in a supposedly safe environment.” Those words referred to Terrell Rogers, a respected neighborhood peacemaker slain by two still-at-large gunmen Jan. 12 outside the Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep gymnasium during halftime of a basketball game starring his daughter.

Sadly, the very same words apply this week to the road-rage slaughter of Tony Bologna, 49, his college-student son, Michael, 20, and 16-year-old son, Matthew, slightly after 3 p.m. on Congdon Street near the intersection with Maynard Street. Bologna, a lifelong Excelsior district resident and Little League coach, was only seven blocks away from home. He was driving back from a festive family barbecue at his sister’s home in Fairfield, having left early so he could get some sleep before reporting at midnight as night manager for Draeger’s gourmet supermarket in San Mateo.

Witnesses say an occupant of a large Chrysler 300M sedan opened fire on Bologna’s Honda Civic just because Tony did notback up quickly enough after both vehicles were blocking each other at the narrow intersection. The family insists Bologna was a peace-loving man who did not respond to “a dirty look” and other provocations from the shooter vehicle.

Again, for no apparent reason, a San Francisco family has been torn apart by gun rage. And while an arrest has been made, we must repeat our final comments from the Terrell Rogers editorial: The City needs a police chief with a proven record of cutting violent crime. To use a sports metaphor, Chief Heather Fong has had too many losing homicide seasons — 98 killings in 2007 and 51 halfway through this year, with a below-average arrest rate.

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