Police search for gunman who shot child

September 21, 2011 5:53:34 PM PDT
The search for whoever shot a five-year-old girl is still going on while people in the neighborhood are demanding changes in and around the liquor store where the girl was hit by a stray bullet. Community organizers say the liquor store is a hub for criminal activity.

Two young men are believed to have fired at each other in front of the Torino Grocery Market on Third Street near Palou Avenue. Both men missed each other, but a stray bullet struck a five-year-old girl in the leg.

Police say they know the identity of one of the shooters and investigators are looking at numerous surveillance footage from around the area. One security tape is said to have shown the actual shooting.

Neighbors told ABC7 they've been warning authorities that crime around the liquor store is getting worse and worse.

One man, who was too scared to be identified, said he event old police he feared a child would be shot someday.

"There are so many children who walk up and down the corner," the man said. "I warned them."

The neighbor, and others, began asking police and the city attorney's office months ago to do something about the store.

"It's a problem," said supervisor Mahlia Cohen. "Our office has heard from many of the neighbors."

Cohen is now asking for a meeting with the owners of the market, saying she wants them to help get rid of the blight.

"We're talking about everything: Loitering, drug sales..." Cohen said. "We're talking about sleeping on the streets. We're talking about intoxication."

The liquor store owners did not want to comment, but former supervisor Sophie Maxwell says the city could close down the store if they don't cooperate.

Years ago, Maxwell introduced legislation that was modeled after Oakland's aggressive and highly successful city ordinance that allows officials to order liquor stores to clean up their act.

"The laws (include) being able to see inside and outside, being able to have light," Maxwell said. "Being able to monitor whether or not they've called the police because people are loitering outside."

Maxwell says city officials and police dropped the ball, and that little was done. But Maxwell says they have a good excuse to begin enforcing the law now that a little girl has been shot.

"I don't know how important it is who dropped the ball," Maxwell said. "The importance now is the ball needs to be picked up."

Oakland passed the ordinance a few years ago that gives city officials the power to hold liquor stores accountable. Today, city officials say they've identified 50 of the 250 liquor stores as potential problems.

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