Lead Story Local News West Edition

LAPD blames rise in gun violence on increased gang activity

LOS ANGELES — The city saw a sharp uptick in gun violence during a two-month period that included the shooting death of rapper Nipsey Hussle, according to figures presented to a City Council committee June 12.

Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Robert Arcos told the council’s Public Safety Committee that 214 people were injured by firearms in the city between Feb. 24 and April 27, with the bulk of them — 160 — attributed to gang activity.

Arcos said 89 of the cases occurred in the LAPD’s South Bureau.

“During that same time last year, we had 129 people injured, so that’s 85 [fewer] people shot,” Arcos said.

He said there were 34 homicides in the city during that time period, 22 in the South Bureau.

Arcos said the spike in recent gun violence is the result of a resurgence in longstanding gang feuds, particularly in the Harbor area.

“They ebb and flow, unfortunately, in these areas,” Arcos said. “They’ve been quiet for five to seven years.”

Arcos’ report came in response to a motion by council members Joe Buscaino, Monica Rodriguez and Marqueece Harris-Dawson. The motion noted that homicides overall were down during the first three months of the year, compared to the same period last year, but the week preceding the March 31 killing of Hussle in South Los Angeles saw a spike in shootings — 26 shooting victims and 10 deaths.

“We recognize there definitely has been a spike [in violent crime] and we know the summertime months will continue to see increased activity, and our biggest concern is to make sure we do all that we can to make a comprehensive response to reduce, if not eliminate, those numbers,” Rodriguez, chair of the Public Safety Committee, said.

Albert Farias, the vice chair of the Voices Neighborhood Council and a professor at USC, spoke during the committee meeting about a May 14 shooting at Vermont Square Park in which four people were injured, including a 5-year-old girl. Farias said the community has been on edge ever since.

“Gun violence in South L.A. is real and our children are being gunned down in the parks,” Farias said.

He said he would like to see surveillance cameras installed in the park and surrounding areas. He said there was a reduction in crime and drug-related activity at Harvard Park when cameras were installed there.

Arcos said the May 14 was a “horrific incident,” noting that four of the five suspects in the shooting are in custody.

Hussle’s killing put a lot of stress on the department’s resources, Arcos said, requiring stepped-up patrols to prevent retaliation violence from occurring at the shooting scene, which turned into a large memorial.

Harris-Dawson praised the department for its actions and the way the city handled itself in such and emotionally fraught time.

“I’ve got to see a reduction in people shot and I’ve got to see a reduction in people killed, and we’re getting that in the last six weeks or so,” said Harris-Dawson, whose district includes parts of South Los Angeles.

Over the summer, the LAPD plans to deploy more officers downtown, but Arcos said the same strategy last summer resulted in a shortage of officers patrolling some neighborhoods. When that happened, they had to redirect officers to the areas where they’re most needed.

“We have had an over-dependence on them to come in and save the day,” Arcos said. “When there is a crime spike, everyone has to take a piece of it.”

I’ve got to see a reduction in people shot and I’ve got to see areduction in people killed.”

— City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson

City News Service