Fresno police see shift in where shootings are happening

Authorities say most of the violence is gang-related.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno Police Department has responded to 564 shootings so far in 2020, more than twice the total of 275 at this same time last year.

They've also investigated 50 murders compared to 34 this time last year.

Authorities say most of the violence is gang-related.

Captain Mindy Casto says, "There's a lot of gang tension right now. There's tension within the gangs, there's tension between gangs, and they oftentimes are trying to protect themselves in a sense, so everybody's armed."
Casto says that's just one part of a perfect storm that has led up to this record setting year. Police put some of the blame on the 'zero dollar bail' policy.

The Fresno County Jail has continued it long after the state's mandate ended because of overcrowding concerns and the extra space needed to mitigate COVID-19 cases.

Authorities say the pandemic has also put more teens out on the streets and created other opportunities for trouble.

Deputy Chief Mark Salazar says, "We have a lot of 14-, 15-, 16-year-olds armed with guns out there. We have a lot of our gang members committing fraud with EDD type fraud that have pocketed thousands of dollars in their pockets, and we're seeing multiple casings meaning multiple guns are being used. I haven't seen that in my two decades of focusing on crime."

Salazar says the violence suppression effort that started nearly two weeks ago is getting results.

Officers have made 147 felony arrests and taken 71 guns off the streets.

He adds, "So far we've had no shootings in southwest closing in on a week. Southwest had been averaging seven shootings a week these past several weeks."

Salazar says now that violence has slowed down in southwest Fresno, the suppression effort is shifting its focus to other areas of the city, including the southeast.

The statistics below show how many shootings each area had between Jan. 1 and Oct. 14 compared to the same time period in 2019:

Southwest: 164 in 2020, 74 in 2019
Central: 126 in 2020, 50 in 2019
Southeast: 149 in 2020, 84 in 2019
Northeast: 44 in 2020, 33 in 2019
Northwest: 64 in 2020, 29 in 2019

District six City Councilman Garry Bredefield says he is worried the rash of violence might spread to other parts of Fresno.

"I am concerned about crime anywhere in the city - we shouldn't have it, people should be able to live in their homes peacefully, not hear gunshot fire, not fear that if they walk down the street they are going to be shot, or a stray bullet is going to hit one of their innocent children. This is unacceptable and we have to stop it," Bredefeld says.

Officials say gang violence is not limited to one area.

In fact, there were multiple shots fired on Shaw and Fresno in northeast Fresno, leaving one person dead during this weekend.

Salazar says they are dedicated to getting in front of this problem.

"We have a focused effort, we are getting a lot of guns off the street. We are holding people accountable for their actions, there are some consequences. Just so you know, we have a police department working around the clock just to keep them safe."
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.