via The Bay Citizen
Four people have been killed and seven others injured in a rash of 11 shootings throughout Oakland since Thursday, and Oakland police are working to find solutions to a rise in violent crime in the city this year, police said.
Najon Jackson, Giselle Ortiz and Charles Smith were killed in separate shootings Saturday night and Sunday morning, Sgt. Holly Joshi said.
Another man was found dead in East Oakland at about 10:30 a.m. today, marking Oakland’s 71st homicide this year, according to police statistics.
At this time last year, Oakland had seen 52 homicides, but this year there has been a 4 percent rise in violent crime, police said.
Joshi said Oakland police are preparing to combat the rise in violent crime with a more proactive approach and are assigning officers to an end-of-summer crime reduction team.
The manpower will be provided by the return of 24 officers who were laid off last July. Grappling with a budget shortfall, Oakland laid off 80 police officers last year, but after recent concessions from city unions, Oakland has been able to hire back some of its depleted police force.
Joshi said most of the 24 rehired officers would be back on patrol by Saturday after a week of training. Officers who were employed by other police agencies could return to active duty after one week, while officers who have been unemployed or employed in non-police positions will require more training.
Once Oakland has added to its patrol force, 18 officers with specialized training will be reassigned to units that will be “out in the field gathering intelligence and doing targeted enforcement.” Joshi said that after the layoffs such specialized units were disbanded.
Joshi said it is difficult to point to any single cause for the rise in violent crime in Oakland this year, but that conflicts between rival gangs and accessibility to guns has contributed to Oakland’s rising homicide rate.
“The accessibility of guns in this city is out of control,” Joshi said. She said guns for many of the city’s youth are “so close and accessible when they get into a personal dispute — it’s right there.”
She said Oakland is looking to work with partner agencies to limit the accessibility of guns on Oakland streets. Last August, Oakland hosted a two-day gang summit between local police, district attorneys and federal agencies to better cooperate in handling gang violence.
“We’re very much trying to work in conjunction with our partner agencies to get a handle on this gun problem,” Joshi said.
Police thus far have been unable to determine if any of the weekend’s homicides are gang-related, but have said that determining if there is gang involvement is one of the first steps in their investigation.
Joshi said that evidence in many of this year’s homicides has pointed to gang activity. “There are several different feuds going on between gangs in West Oakland and East Oakland,” she said.
Violent crime in Oakland made national headlines last week when 29-year-old Paris Powell was killed in East Oakland while he and his family were feeding the homeless.
But while Powell’s case highlighted a particularly shocking case of violent crime, gun violence remains a day-to-day reality for many Oakland residents.
In addition to the four dead since Saturday, seven have been injured in shootings since Thursday and one 29-year-old Oakland man remains in critical condition from a Thursday shooting in West Oakland.
Police released the names today of the three killed between Saturday night and Sunday morning, but they released few details as the incidents are still under investigation and have no suspects in the shootings.
Najon Jackson, 16, was shot on the 9300 block of Sunnyside Street shortly before midnight on Saturday night. Police discovered him with multiple gunshot wounds and rushed him to the hospital.
Doctors attempted to revive Jackson and performed surgery, but he died early Sunday morning.
At 3:07 a.m. Sunday, a man flagged down an ambulance at the corner of 30th Street and Telegraph Avenue. He was transporting Oakland resident Giselle Ortiz, 26, to the hospital but pulled over when he saw the ambulance.
Ortiz was taken to Alta Bates Summit Medical Center but doctors were unable to revive her. Investigators said they believe Ortiz was shot at a residence in West Oakland, but they have not yet released the exact location.
Minutes later, Charles Smith, 21, was shot in the area of 87th Avenue and G Street, where he had been at a party at a nearby motorcycle club. Police responded to reports of gunshots at 3:20 a.m., but Smith had already been transported to nearby Highland Hospital.
Smith also died early Sunday morning.