Gang violence proliferating near where girl was shot

September 29, 2010 7:12:45 PM PDT
The shooting of a 6-year-old girl while she was sleeping in her home is putting the spotlight on an area of East Oakland where gang violence is proliferating. It is a neighborhood where people are afraid to leave their homes at night and some worry about going out at all.

Officer Tim Scarrott is an Iraq combat veteran. He has also been an Oakland police officer for 10 years. He has spent two of them patrolling the streets of East Oakland.

Scarrott says good people live there, but their streets can turn mean when the sun goes down.

Albert Bazile does not need to be told that. He lives near where Leslie Ramirez was shot in her home early Tuesday morning.

"It's dangerous for me coming out here day or night, that's all I can tell you," Bazile said. "There's not enough police out here."

Scarrott would be the first to agree. He says the layoffs and attrition have meant 120 fewer cops on the force. Scarrott used to have a partner; he now rides alone.

"We do the best we can with the resources we have," he said.

In the 28 square blocks around Seminary Avenue and 16th Street where Ramirez's home is located there have been 21 crimes reported this month. They include shootings, robberies, assaults and carjackings.

Investigators believe Ramirez's home was shot up by gang members, probably targeting her older brother Richard.

Richard Ramirez told ABC7 he is not a gang member; but his home is tagged with gang graffiti.

In fact, it is hard to find a sidewalk or wall that does not have graffiti from the gang that rules the area

"Right now, the most prominent gang in the area is the Southside Locos," Scarrott said.

Scarrott says gang members roam the neighborhood more than ever since there are now fewer cops patrolling.

"They'll get out and they'll wear their colors and they'll roam around as just a sign that they can do what they want," Scarrott said.

Celsa Snead tries to get kids out of gangs. She says Ramirez's shooting may have been prevented.

"I think its representative of the escalating violence that's happening in the city and when there aren't a lot of support or when the support is diminishing, I think these types of incidents happen," Snead said.

Just like the police, gang intervention groups like Snead's are also facing funding cuts.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing but there have been no arrests. Oakland police say Ramirez is doing OK.


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