By AMANDA MARTINEZ
The Mission District posted no gun deaths in the first half of this year, compared to four during the same period last year, but the neighborhood posted a sharp increase in non-fatal shootings, from 11 in the 2007 period to 15 this year, a jump of more than a third, according to police. Citywide, such shootings dropped by nearly a third.
The report on shootings came at a meeting of the San Francisco Police Commission where police brass reported that homicide citywide had dropped sharply over the last two years, from 52 deaths in the first half of 2007 to 25 deaths in the first half of this year, a plunge of more than half.
Mission District shootings, however, have persisted and grown.
“Unfortunately people who desire guns continue to be able to obtain them, “ said Deputy Chief Cashman at the meeting. The department has seized more than 500 guns within San Francisco’s 49 square miles this year.
Moreover, if last week’s shooting at Bob’s Liquor and Grocery Store, near 26th and Harrison, is any indication, it is unclear how much violence goes unrecorded in the official statistics. Neighbors said one teenager, a 17-year-old boy, was seriously hurt in the shooting. But a second teenager, a 15-year-old boy, hit in the arm by the same bullet, left before the police arrived and his injury did not make it into the police department’s official data.
“We are having problems with victims and witnesses of the shootings coming forward,” said Commander John Murphy two days after the Bob’s Liquor Store shooting. He mentioned such incidents while briefing the commission on the city’s plan to reduce violence.
The police said there are fewer shootings and other violent incidents but more victims and the vast majority of the victims are black or Hispanic.
“We are still seeing that a majority of homicide victims are black and Hispanic males,” said Deputy Chief David Shin. Fifty two percent of homicide victims this year are black. The black population makes up less than 8 percent of San Francisco residents and only 3 percent of Mission District residents, according to the 2000 Census.
The two victims in the shooting at Bob’s Liquor store last week were African-American.
The reason for more victims while fewer shootings citywide may be semi-automatic weapons, which can spray up to 15 rounds, instead of six rounds as with less powerful weapons, Commander Murphy said.
The police plan therefore identifies the Mission District as one of five high-crime “zones,” along with the Tenderloin, Western Addition, Bay View, and Visitation Valley. These areas make up only two percent of the city’s neighborhoods, but, according to a 2006 report, are responsible for 45 percent of the city’s violent crime.
The violence-reduction plan relies on a surge in the number of officers in these areas to enforce probation orders, gang injunctions, stay-away orders and even apartment evictions.
Deputy Chief Kevin Cashman said it is not uncommon for suspects to commute to these crime zones to commit crimes. But even with an increase in officers a higher percentage of the city’s shootings are still within the zones. Seventy-five of the 100 non-fatal shooting victims this year have been with the five zones, a jump of more than a quarter over last year.