Sharp rise in homicides in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES With the string of gang shootings this week, members of the community are voicing their concerns.

LAPD officials at Parker Center are struggling to figure out what has led to this sudden jump in homicides.

Police were on the scene of another murder in south Los Angeles Wednesday night. It is the latest in the dramatic surge in the number of homicides in the city of Los Angeles.

Homicides in L.A. County are up 27 percent so far this year compared to the same period last year.

"When I hear about things like that I keep thinking that the world is going to get better, but it's not. I am actually paranoid when I walk on the streets now," said L.A. resident Byron Otay.

A new report shows there has been a sharp increase in murders so far this year, with 74 in the first two months of 2008. That reverses nearly five years of decline.

"I can tell you that we will do what we have always done. We will focus on areas that we think we need to put more resources. That is why the chief has been as successful as he has," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The LAPD says even though overall homicides are up, gang violence and gang-related murders are actually down by 25 percent.

The challenge now is trying to figure out exactly what has led to this sharp increase in murders, something the LAPD says they're struggling to do.

Most of the murders that have occurred appear to be random and unrelated. Authorities say that several incidents involving multiple victims could be to blame.

Whatever it is, many residents say that more needs to be done to stop the violence.

"It makes me a little concerned because of the kids and the children. Us as grown folks we have to teach the kids, babies to do the right thing," said local resident Stephanie Ziegler.

"I just worry about my kids at school with all of the shootings. I just worry about my kids a lot," said nearby resident Erick Vasquez.

Several high-profile shooting and murders have community members expressing their concerns and calling for more action.

Residents, city leaders, and police gathered in Harbor Gateway Wednesday night to talk about the recent gang-related shooting of a 6-year-old boy. Many community members expressed their concerns that violence on the streets is getting worse.

Residents Wednesday night said more needs to be done.

"People who commit homicide are murderers and we need to address them in that category," said Lawanda Hawkins, Harbor Gateway resident.

"This is a joint effort, we're in this like you are," said LAPD Deputy Chief Kenneth O. Garner. "And we're going to make sure that you get what you need, peace and quiet."

Two suspected gang members have been arrested for the shooting that left a 6-year-old boy critically injured.

The child was riding in an SUV Tuesday afternoon near 227th and Halldale Ave. when the suspects flashed gang signs at the vehicle. One of the suspects pulled out a gun and opened fire, hitting the young boy in the head.

The 6-year-old remained on life support Thursday.


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