One month, three blocks, four occurrences. These are the latest stats for 24th Street, and they refer not to restaurant openings but to shootings.
Since June 26, police have been called four times because of shots fired on the corridor — and three of the incidents occurred when the sun was shining overhead, patrons were lined up outside coffee shops and residents were walking home.
The shootings are all under investigation and police believe three of them are related to a gang that claims the street as its own: the Norteños.
“Obviously four shootings in 30 days is indicative that something is either stirring within the Norteños or Sureños or another rival gang is coming into the neighborhood,” Police Chief Greg Suhr told Mission Local.
The incidents occurred like this:
Tuesday, June 26, 3:20 p.m.: A 37-year-old man is shot in the stomach near 24th and Harrison streets. That incident is being investigated as a domestic violence dispute, Suhr said.
Tuesday, July 10, 3 p.m.: A 19-year-old is shot in the abdomen at the corner of 24th and Folsom streets. Jesse Hirsch, a food critic for the San Francisco Examiner, tweets from the scene: “Round of gunshots right outside Philz on 24th. Everyone dived under tables, owner locked front door.” A stray bullet hits the window of a liquor store diagonally across the street. No arrests are made.
Friday, July 20, 11:30 p.m.: Two suspects fire at a 20-year-old man as he walks home near 24th and Shotwell streets. He sustains an abrasion on his hand as a result of ducking the bullets. Soon after, police arrest two suspects when officers find a firearm in their car. It does not appear that the victim and suspects knew each other, according to police.
Monday, July 23, 2 p.m.: A masked gunman opens fire at 24th and Harrison streets and is last seen running toward 25th Street. No one is injured. Just as in the incident outside of Philz, a longtime nearby business owner allows a bystander inside his shop before he locks the door. No arrest is made.
“Now they are more shameless, shooting in plain daylight,” said the business owner, who asked not to be identified for safety reasons. “It used to be that they would stab each other or punch each other, but now they use guns.”
While daylight gunfights in the Mission are not unheard of, the number of recent incidents concerns Suhr, who used to head the Mission police station.
“These guys, they don’t even have watches,” he said. “It’s where you are standing, the color of your skin, and stupid — that is a recipe for disaster.”
The latest incident is particularly troublesome because it occurred right outside a preschool. Mission Girls, the nonprofit group that runs the preschool and after-school program, could not immediately be reached for comment.
While violent crime in the Mission has been steadily decreasing over the last few years, problems with gangs continue.
“I don’t know that it’s ever gone away. It may have hit a low ebb,” Suhr said. “Every year during the summer there is this increase when the weather is good. And the weather has been good this year.”
In 2007, the San Francisco City Attorney established a gang injunction against known Norteño members. Under the injunction, the members could be arrested if they step into what’s known as the safety zone.
Supporters of the injunction point to the fact that since then, murders in the Mission have decreased dramatically.
The area covered by the Mission police station, which also includes the Castro and parts of Noe Valley, experienced 18 homicides in 2008, most of which were gang-related. So far this year, the station is on track to record just as many homicides as it did 2011 — six.
The incidence of shots fired, however, has remained steady. As of June 16, 20 had been recorded, according to the latest Compstat figures available. There were 31 last year and 37 in 2010.
Ricardo Garcia-Acosta of the Community Response Network, whose staff does street outreach and crisis management throughout the city, said that the new uptick in violence might have to do with old grudges.
“We might be able to save this one guy this time, but these groups never forget,” he said. “It might be two years later and they’re thinking, ‘We never got them.’”
The response network is currently focusing its efforts on the city’s south side, which is experiencing an increase in homicides.
Suhr said that he intends to curb the violence with the help of the newly formed Major Crimes Unit, a task force that triangulates crime data to identify suspects.
Another way to counter the violence is to give youth paychecks, he said. A large percentage of the approximately 5,000 youth who obtained summer jobs this year are from the Mission, he said — a step in the right direction.
It’s a way to interrupt the power of the gang induction, Suhr said, so that the kids “don’t become part of these scary numbers.”
“Everyone who is not in the [gang] life and might fall victim to it, we need to claim them first.”
Shootings in the Mission this year:
View shootings in the Mission in a larger map.