Visitacion Valley, a residential neighborhood tucked into San Francisco's far southwest corner, has been hit with a shocking wave of gang violence in recent days. This week alone, shootings have claimed the lives of four people--bringing the area's total summer death toll to seven.
At a press conference on Wednesday, police chief Greg Suhr explained this recent streak of shootings as likely coming from intra-gang conflict rather than rival groups fighting each other.
"They were all friends not long ago - now they have turned on each other," Suhr told the San Francisco Chronicle.
The most recent victim was 26-year old Edmundo Sandoval, who was shot on Tuesday evening near his home on San Bruno Avenue. Sandoval was a suspect in the death of Diondre Young this March. Sandoval's 53-year old uncle, who was also hit in the incident, is in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital.
On Monday afternoon, 27-year old Frederick Glaspie and 25-year old Marche Daniels were killed in a brazen daylight shooting.
Bay City News noted that in 2010, the city attorney's office listed both victims of Monday's shooting as alleged members of the Towerside gang.
Suhr said that the shootings earlier in the summer stemmed from members of another gang, the Down Below Gangsters, fighting amongst themselves.
In response, SFPD has dramatically increased police presence in the neighborhood.
“We’re trying to save them from themselves,” Suhr said of the gang members.
The chief also has asked the community not to celebrate their deaths, but instead work to prevent them. After Diondre Young, who also was named in the gang injunction, was found shot dead in Rincon Hill on March 30, he was given a hero’s funeral, with his casket paraded down Sunnydale Avenue.
In a recent column, Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius argued that despite the police department's best effort, a solution to the problem of gang violence must come from inside the community itself.
"The community seems stuck repeating the same reactions over and over," wrote Nevius. "Don't cooperate with the investigation. Blame the police for heavy-handed tactics…And then throw a huge, emotional funeral celebrating the life of the deceased. Often it is complete with photos on t-shirts, a procession, posters and high emotion."
Visitacion Valley isn't the only neighborhood in the city faced with an outbreak of gang violence this summer. Over just the past month, the Mission District's 24th Street corridor saw four shootings occur within a three-block radius.
Additionally, the daylight shooting of two people in the Western Addition on Thursday marked the fourth consecutive day of gun violence in San Francisco.