Richmond violence spikes to staggering level

September 14, 2009 6:38:33 PM PDT
The level of violence is staggering, even for a Bay Area city that deals with a staggering level of violence. There were nearly two dozen shootings and five people killed in Richmond, just over the weekend. ABC7 took a closer look at why the Richmond streets are so dangerous and how police hope to deal with it.

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All of the violence that occurred in just a matter of a few days prompted police to meet with city leaders. They will try to come up with some kind of action plan to curb the cycle of violence that appears to be out of control.

Richmond police count at least 23 shooting incidents in the past three days. In all, five lives were lost and 11 people injured. Besides a carjacking and a robbery, police say most of the violence was related to an ongoing gang battle. The common thread is a staggering amount of firepower.

"We had several shootings where we had at least three guns being fired. Each of them had a 15-round magazine. We had 45 casings, after a 20 second gun battle. That rivals what you might see in a war zone," says Richmond Police Lt. Mark Gagan.

"In this case, it's the eastern south side versus the western south side," said Andres Soto who runs an anti-violence program in Richmond. "What happens is someone gets shot by one faction or the other and immediately there's a back and forth guerilla warfare about retaliation."

Most of the shootings happened at night, like last Friday's double murder at a gas station, but on Sunday came a series of brazen daylight attacks. Now, Richmond police plan to put extra patrols in problem areas.

"The officers that are working right now are being directed to work the Cutting and Carlson corridor, which is the south side of Richmond," said Gagan.

On Tuesday, the city council will decide whether to expand the use of the high tech shot-spotter system in the most troubled neighborhoods.

Last Friday, a Richmond youth group held a rally to encourage peace on the streets. Charles Boyd and Damien Baker both performed. Two hours later, came the double murder at the gas station.

"It's just dumb stuff, kid stuff, 'I looked at you wrong, you looked at me wrong.' Immature stuff, just need to get past all that," says Charles Boyd from Richmond.

"I wish everyone could just calm down and think for a minute, and realize they're taking people's lives, somebody's father, somebody's mother, a daughter or a son," says Damien Baker from Richmond.

Several months ago when there was a similar spike in violence, Richmond called in the CHP to help patrol city streets, but that plan backfired a bit with the local community who felt it became more about cracking down on vehicle code violations than violent crime.

This time, besides the extra patrols that police are planning, they're asking for help from church, community and city leaders, as well as individual families to try to curb the violence.

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