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Four people shot and killed in Sacramento in 12-hour period. How the city’s police chief is reacting

By Brittany Hope

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    SACRAMENTO, California (KCRA) — Police say five people have been shot and killed in Sacramento at four different locations since Sunday morning, one of the victims a teenager.

Four of the victims were killed between late Monday night and Tuesday morning within the span of 12 hours.

As of Tuesday evening, the Sacramento Police Department said no one is in custody in connection to any of the homicides.

Where the recent Sacramento shootings happened The first deadly shooting happened early Sunday morning in midtown Sacramento on 28th and J streets. Sacramento police arrested 23-year-old Michael Escobar in connection with the shooting death of 34-year-old Alfonso Martinez Jr.

One of the Monday shootings happened at a South Natomas apartment complex on San Juan Road, police said. Two people, a man and a teenager, were seated in a car with its windows shot out. One of them died at the scene and the other died while first responders were trying lifesaving measures on him. It is unknown who died first.

The second deadly shooting on Monday happened near Eleanor Avenue and Arcade Boulevard in north Sacramento.

Some people were involved in a fight and all are believed to have known each other, police said. One person took themselves to the hospital and the other died, police said.

On Tuesday morning, a man was fatally shot in the Oak Park area in the 3800 block of 6th Avenue. Police told KCRA 3 it received a report of shots fired around 9 a.m.

The man died after being taken to a hospital by someone else, police said.

Sacramento police chief responds to shootings KCRA 3 sat down Tuesday with Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester to talk about the surge in fatal gun violence.

Q: What is your message to the community after this string of fatal shootings?

Lester: It’s heartbreaking and the community is concerned, and rightly so. I mean, we are concerned and that’s why we’re talking about this today. This is unacceptable for our community. If it sounds like I’m upset and I’m frustrated, I certainly am. I think we all should be. There are people and there are families that are behind this.

It’s just so upsetting to have to see families go through this and lose a loved one. We’ve been watching very closely, analyzing, and committing resources to gun violence in our community and this is why. Because this shouldn’t happen in our community. Sacramento is better than that.

Q: These fatal shootings happened in locations across the city, not just in one concentrated area. What is your response to that?

Lester: Violence affects us all in everyone’s community, and I think that’s why we’re all feeling this. It’s affected all parts of the city. When looking at the data] we found we were really similar to other cities. Most crime occurs in small geographic areas and it’s committed by a small number of offenders so it does help us focus, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen in various areas within your city like we saw this week.

Q: How is staffing in your department? Are there enough officers to adequately investigate these multiple homicides?

Lester: Right now, it’s all hands on deck. We have a lot of people working. A lot of people haven’t gone home. Our priority is to investigate these thoroughly … because we need to find justice for the families that are involved. I can tell you we are down on staffing, but that’s not unique to law enforcement.

Lester said the department is currently authorized for 769 officers. It is currently down 80 officers and has about 30 in training. Overall, that leaves a roughly 50-officer shortage. In 2008, she said the department was slated to have 804 officers.

Q: Looking at solutions to gun violence in Sacramento, what is your violence prevention plan?

Lester: We have officers working every day putting themselves in very dangerous situations to take guns off the street and to try to intervene. We’re also working very hard with our community partners … I always say community safety is a community responsibility. It can’t just be something the city can fix, not just the police department, and not just our community partners. It’s really everyone working together.

Lester said so far this year 114 guns have been seized from downtown Sacramento. Looking citywide, that number is nearly 1,000. She said the city finalized contracts with eight community-based organizations in June, paying them to help with gun violence prevention.

Q: Why do you believe Sacramento has seen this sudden surge of fatal gun violence over the past three days?

Lester: It really is rare to see this many homicides in this short period of time. We probably won’t know the answer to that until we dive into all of these and really investigate them thoroughly. What I can say [is] this isn’t something that just happened. We have seen an increase in violence over the last few years here in Sacramento and across many major cities.

Q: Were ghost guns involved in the five homicides over the past three days?

Lester: With these investigations, it’s too early to tell. I can tell you from last year, ghost guns accounted for about a quarter of everything that we confiscated. We do track our ghost gun seizures every month.

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