Following a recent spate of murders, residents and law enforcement in San Bernardino are looking to stem the violence.
Last week, the city saw four homicides, bringing its total to 30 people killed so far this year. At this time last year that number was 27; in 2012, it was 25.
“It’s really really bad here,” said Jorge, a resident who did not want his full name used because he said he fears he will be targeted by local gangs, which police say are largely responsible for the increase in slayings.
“Especially for kids and we don’t want them raised in this kind of a neighborhood,” Jorge said.
He lives just a block away from the intersection of East Baseline Street and Waterman Avenue, where a shootout outside a smoke shop July 9 left four wounded and one dead. There was a shooting at the same intersection the night before, but no one was injured.
“It makes a lousy headline in the paper and we want to change that,” Lt. Richard Lawhead of the San Bernardino Police Department. “We continue to have seven-day-a-week coverage as proactive gang enforcement.”
Lawhead said the murder rate tends to spike in summer months, and that gangs and drug crimes are the primary drivers of the increase in killings.
He said the police are trying to reach out to the community to solve the murders, and try to turn the tide.
Chief Jarrod Burguan posted a note on the department’s Facebook page Friday, again pointing to drugs and gangs as the reasons for the uptick, and asking anyone who witnesses gang activity to report it to police.
“We’re trying to make it as easy as we can for you to remain anonymous,” Lawhead said.
While the murder rate has seen a jump in the first part of the year, burglary and armed robberies are both down, and locals hope that means things are turning around for the Inland Empire city.
Jorge, the resident who said he feared gang retaliation, said he also thinks neighbors need to work with law enforcement to help combat the gang violence.
“The only way we can go against those people is if we get together,” he said.