Fresno sees violent first weekend of 2021

Fresno Police detectives say four of the five homicides involved people who were gang-affiliated.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The first weekend of 2021 was a violent one for the city of Fresno.

So far the city has experienced 14 shootings, five of which became homicides.

That's a major increase from this time last year.

In 2020 the city didn't have its first homicide until eight days into the year, and it didn't have five until early March.

Detectives say four of the five homicides involved people who were gang-affiliated.

Police are now working to solve those homicides and shootings, including one at the Fashion Fair Mall.

"The guns are in the wrong hands of individuals whose first reaction is to go to violence or use those guns to perpetrate a criminal act," says Fresno Police Lt. Steve Card.

Those shootings took place in different areas of town and Lieutenant Card says there's no evidence they're connected.

The first happened on New Year's Day in east central Fresno.

Two men were shot and killed, including an 18-year-old.

The next day another person died during a shooting at the Days Inn in south Fresno.

RELATED: Man shot and killed at southeast Fresno hotel, police say

That was followed by the killing of 14-year-old Breana Gomez in northeast Fresno early Sunday morning.

RELATED: Teenager shot and killed in northeast Fresno, another injured

The teen was shot multiple times as she and her friends walked home.

"It is tragic especially when you see young people that are victims of violence," says Lt. Card.

The most recent homicide happened Sunday night in central Fresno.

Police say a car pulled up to a man who was possibly homeless and someone inside fired at him.

Card, who also serves as the commander for the Police Department's MAGEC team says four of the five shootings involved people who were gang-affiliated.

He says several factors have contributed to the violence, including the pandemic and changes within the justice system.

"I think the other factor has been the amount of influential gang members and individuals engaged in violence or patterns of violence out in the community currently."

A Saturday shooting inside Fashion Fair Mall only contributed to the violent weekend.

It sent scared shoppers running for safety, but no one was hurt.

RELATED: Confrontation leads to shots fired inside Fashion Fair Mall, police say

Police are now looking at increasing their presence in that area.

They're also preparing to make other changes in 2021, but have not yet released specific details about those plans.

"We are digging ourselves out of a deep hole, but we are starting to get a little bit of traction and you will see in the future that we are going to positively drive the crime down in our community," says Card.

The police department is asking the public for help solving these crimes.

They're asking anyone who might know something or saw something to call the police department or they can leave an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers.
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