Murder rate up in Fresno, victim's family pleads for justice

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Fresno police say this year overall shootings are down compared to last year, but the murder rate is up. (KFSN)

Fresno police say this year overall shootings are down compared to last year, but the murder rate is up. Investigators say they need the public's help in solving at least two murders from the long holiday weekend.

Homicide detectives say it involved drugs. But the exact motive is not clear. The murder rate in Fresno is up 27 percent over last year. Chief Jerry Dyer places the blame on illegal guns and gang members.

Several kids and family members spent the hot summer day Monday washing cars in the Tacos Tijuana parking lot in Southeast Fresno. They're not doing it for the extra spending cash; some of them are working toward a funeral for their father.

"He left six kids behind," said Jessica Lopez, the victim's sister. "His wife doesn't have money for a funeral."

The family printed large pictures of 31-year-old Jose Lopez. They washed cars and asked for donations Monday, the same day the rest of the family spent planning his funeral.

"We don't really know any details right now," Lopez said. "We just know that we want justice for our brother, that's it."

Investigators are only saying right now the murders involved drugs. Lopez was found shot to death at a home in Southeast Fresno Saturday. His family says he was with his friend, who also died in the shooting, 39-year-old Bulmaro Ramirez.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says violent crimes, like shootings, are down this year by 13 percent. Unfortunately, more of the shooting victims are dying from their injuries. All but four Fresno murders this year involved guns.

"20 of our 28 murders this year involve either a gang member as a victim or a suspect," Chief Dyer said. "So our intense focus on gangs, which will continue, is what will keep our overall violent crime, overall shootings and hopefully murders, down."

The Lopez family claim Jose Lopez was not involved in gangs.

"Just confess and come forward," pleaded Lopez. "Do it for his kids, you know. His kids are the ones that are suffering more. Just do it for his kids, and if you know anything come forward."

Family members say they'll be out trying to earn money for the funeral again Tuesday. Investigators say anyone who knows about this case needs to step forward.

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