FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno Police Department said on Friday that shootings have increased significantly - by 30% - since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
From January 1st through June 5th, Fresno has had 202 total shooting incidents with 98 victims hit by gunfire, the department said in a statement.
This time last year it was 152.
"This sharp increase coincides with the early release of prisoners from detention facilities and the zero dollar bail placed on the State by the California Judicial Council in response to the pandemic," the statement said.
The statement said at least 44% of the 202 shootings involve gang activity where the suspect is known.
On Friday, officers were investigating the city's 16th homicide of the year.
Tyler at recreation and the nearby 180 on-ramps were shut down for several hours, in east central Fresno, as homicide detectives tried to figure out what led up to a deadly shooting Thursday morning.
Lt. Stephen Viveros said, "We canvased the area. We're looking for any witnesses and checking surveillance in the area."
RELATED: Man shot, killed in east central Fresno, police say
According to police, neighbors heard some type of disturbance between two men before shots were fired.
This comes less than 24 hours after a man and woman were shot downtown near A and Mariposa.
The pair were rushed to the hospital where the man remains in critical condition.
RELATED: Suspect pulls out gun, shoots man and woman walking down southwest Fresno street
Investigators say it's still too early to determine if the shooting is gang-related.
On Tuesday, there was another shooting - near Fairmont and Holt.
Police say 23-year-old Alyssa Ochoa Fernandez died from her injuries. She was one of two shooting victims.
RELATED: Man and woman in critical condition after shooting in west central Fresno
They are still investigating after an unidentified vehicle approached their car and fired at them.
There are efforts to curb the violence in Fresno - one of them is Westside boxing, sponsored by the Police Activities League. It's aimed at steering youth in the right direction.
Stop the Violence Outreach coordinator, Master O'Brian Matthews says they're "just trying to give them something, like a role model, to look at; instead of just the same people out on the corner."
Before the pandemic you could find anywhere from 20-30 kids with volunteers from Street Saints and Stop the Violence working together, learning lessons in and out of the ring. Matthews says he's teaching from experience.
Matthews says, "There's more to life. I'm trying to help and give back because I've messed up so many lives; I'm just trying to see if I can change a couple."
The gym says it's waiting on direction from the city on when they can re-open and operate to showcase their new music room, dance area, and computer lab so students can do their homework.
Fresno Police say shootings have risen by 30% during COVID-19 pandemic
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