OAKLAND, Calif. (BCN) - Oakland police are putting additional officers on the streets this week in response to a spike in fatal shootings that occurred in rapid succession over the past few days, police said this morning during a news conference at department headquarters.
"This level of violence is unacceptable, and we take it very seriously," Acting Chief LeRonne Armstrong said.
Armstrong was referring to a series of fatal shootings that left four people dead and four others wounded between Sunday morning and Monday afternoon.
Just before 1 a.m. Sunday, two people were shot in the 9500 block of E Street. One of them died at the scene, and the other was transported to a hospital and survived their wounds. The victim who died has been identified as 21-year-old Polo Demetrio Pablocalmo of Oakland.
Capt. Roland Holmgren said today that Pablocalmo's slaying stemmed from a dispute that occurred at a party.
"A short time after, there was a vehicle that drove by and discharged a firearm, fatally killing a person," Holmgren said.
Then at 2:21 a.m. Sunday, two men and a woman were found with gunshot wounds in the 1100 block of International Boulevard. One of the men, 31-year-old Union City resident Xin Hoang, died of his injuries at a hospital while the other two victims are in stable condition.
The third homicide occurred around 7 p.m. Sunday in the 1300 block of 72nd Avenue near International Boulevard. A man was pronounced dead at the scene and a female victim was taken to a hospital in stable condition, according to police.
The man has been identified as a 38-year-old Oakland resident, but his name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
The fourth fatal shooting occurred about a block away, in the 7100 block of International Boulevard, around 4:10 p.m. Monday. Responding officers found 36-year-old Mario Thomas, of Oakland, suffering from gunshot wounds. He did not survive.
Thomas' death was the 46th homicide of 2018. Holmgren said that last year 42 homicides had occurred by today's date.
The first two fatal shootings Sunday were apparently unrelated disputes that turned violent, according to Holmgren. Investigators believe the third and fourth homicides may involve street-level narcotics sales.
Investigators have developed descriptions of some of the suspects, but declined to release that information to the public this morning.
In response to the spike in violence, the department is deploying additional patrols in vehicles and on foot. They're also deploying a mobile command center.
"Our homicide division has been doing a phenomenal job of getting cases charged," Armstrong said. "We're sending a clear message to those in our community that are engaged in this violence that we are going to catch you and we're going to hold you accountable."
Police officials asked anyone with additional information or evidence, such as security video, to come forward to aid in the investigation.
Mayor Libby Schaaf just sent out a newsletter on Thursday touting a significant reduction in fatal shootings as a result of the city's Ceasefire violence prevention strategy. Gun homicides dropped roughly 44 percent from 114 fatal shootings in 2012 to just 63 in 2017, according to the mayor.
Capt. Ersie Joyner spoke about that program this morning.
"Ceasefire is a community driven process that involves elected officials, faith-based groups, the community at large as well as law enforcement," Joyner said.
"Our three goals are to reduce shootings and homicides, reduce recidivism, and third and equally important is to repair and build our relationships in the community," Joyner said. "If you don't do all three of those things, you're not doing a ceasefire strategy."