Another wave of violence grips Richmond

July 14, 2009 12:23:32 AM PDT
There have been seven homicides in eight days in Richmond, with nearly a dozen more people injured in that gunfire. The latest killing happened Monday morning. The victim was a 24-year-old man who had just attended an anti-violence rally.

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Each day it seems like more and more of Richmond is falling under siege. Police were hoping that surveillance video that captured Monday's freeway shooting might provide clues, but after reviewing it they found it too grainy. Now with this shooting, and all the others over the past eight days, they are back at square one.

"This is the kind you use in the war -- military type deal," said Richmond Police Department evidence technician Greg Franklin.

Franklin describes the kind of semi-automatic gun you would find on the streets of Baghdad, but this one was recovered from the streets of Richmond.

The evidence room in the police department is stacked to the ceiling with guns, some of them illegal, many of them just like the weapons that investigators believe were used in a series of shootings that have left six people dead over the past eight days.

"These are the magazines that will carry up to 50 to 60 to 100 rounds," said Franklin.

Police Chief Chris Magnus says some of the shootings appear to be retaliatory.

"The police department is working 24/7 to get a handle on this violence," said the chief. "We have greatly increased the number of officers on the street and assigned them to key areas where we see the greatest amount of violence."

The latest killing is different than the others, taking place on Interstate 580 just after midnight. The victim, 24-year-old Aaron Jackson of Oakland, was a man whom police say recently attended a rally to stop the shootings in Richmond. A passenger in the car was also shot, but survived. Witnesses say a gray SUV pulled up alongside their car and opened fire.

"We are in a state of emergency right now," said Rev. Andre Schumake of the Richmond Improvement Association.

Anti-violence activists are meeting with those at the center of this ongoing turf war hoping there will soon be a truce.

"These young men are angry, they're frustrated, and we've got to find a way to reach their inner-being," said Schumake.

Police staffing levels are higher than they have been in years, so many in Richmond say it is not a matter of law enforcement resources. Still, city officials are struggling to find a solution.

"Occasionally it reaches this level, but we've gotten through it before and we'll get through it again and we'll have ourselves further entrenched in making these truces happen," said Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.

Richmond police plan to ask the California Highway Patrol to step up patrols on local freeways. Sources tell ABC7 the Contra Costa Sheriff's Department has already increased patrols in incorporated north Richmond where there also have been two shootings in recent days.

Meanwhile, police here announced a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in any of these recent shootings. The number to call is (510) 232-TIPS.

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