New shooting in Mission District – man injured

Sunday, September 7, 2008

(09-06) 16:26 PDT SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco’s Mission District was rocked by yet another shooting early Saturday morning, when a 19-year-old man was wounded in what may have been part of a wave of gang-related shootings.

San Francisco police said that the victim, whom they did not identify, was part of a group of four people walking along 23rd Street near Treat Avenue at 4:45 a.m.

“They were shot at by an unknown suspect in a vehicle going southbound on Treat,” said police spokesman Sgt. Wilfred Williams.

The victim, described as Hispanic by police, was taken by ambulance to San Francisco General Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Williams said the department did not yet know whether the shooting was gang-related.

But neighbors and some community leaders speculated that it could have been gang retaliation for one of several other shootings earlier in the week.

“The individual who was shot was a good friend of one of our clients, and we are sure it was (gang) color-related,” said Santiago Ruiz, executive director of Mission Neighborhood Centers, which runs anti-gang programs as well as a wide range of other youth activities.

“It seemed like an execution-style thing – I heard four to six shots, and then a car took off up Treat Avenue toward 24th Street,” said Patricia Delgado, a retired legal secretary who has lived on Treat since 1988.

Saturday’s attack follows a string of six fatal shootings in the Mission since August 22:

— Samuel Mitchell, 47, was killed Aug. 22 at 26th and Folsom streets.

— Jorge Hurtado, 18, was shot and killed Aug. 24 at Treat Avenue and 23rd Street.

— Marcelino Canul-Castro, 24, was fatally shot Monday at San Carlos and 18th streets.

— Mark Guardado, 46, president of the San Francisco chapter of the Hells Angels, was killed Tuesday near 24th Street and Treat Avenue.

— Noel Espinoza, 19, and Matthew Solomon, 23, were killed Thursday night on 24th Street at Utah Street.

In response to the spike of violence, Police Chief Heather Fong promised on Friday to increase Mission Street beat policing and add patrol cars to parts of the Mission and Ingleside neighborhoods. Some Mission District residents organized a peace rally for noon today at 24th and Mission streets, while others announced a candlelight peace march tonight at 6:30 at 24th and Treat Avenue. The Mission Community Council called for a meeting of residents, nonprofits and religious groups on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Mission Recreation Center.

The attack left residents of the 1000 block of Treat Avenue – which was the site of a triple slaying in November, as well as last week’s Hurtado and Guardado killings and Saturday’s shooting – feeling as if they are under siege.

Ironically, it is a block that does exactly what police say residents should do to deter crime. Residents formed a neighborhood association after the November killings and now share safety tips and other information by Internet. They hold social gatherings, safety forums and monthly street clean-up sessions, and they even organized two block-wide garage sales this summer.

Residents gathered Saturday afternoon in the hot sun after holding their scheduled cleanup and shared rumors and fears.

They speculated about whether the latest shooting was linked to the Hells Angels killing at one end of the block; the Hurtado killing at the other end; or to some other vendetta altogether.

And they wondered what factors – a line of unoccupied buildings along 23rd Street or a broken streetlight – had turned their street into a kind of epicenter for shootings.

“It’s like the Wild West,” said one neighbor, who asked to be identified only as Kelly. “Everyone knows you can come down here and kill, and no one will catch you.”

“We are getting very able to discern what gunshots are,” said resident Stephen Bramfitt. “There’s a short burst. You go, ‘Yeah, that’s gunfire.’ Then you wait to hear people screaming.”

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