FRESNO, California (KGPE) – Fresno is seeing a staggering increase in violence, with seven homicides in the past seven days and shootings up 86% over last year.
Police said the majority of the murders they’re seeing are gang-related.
Shawn Robinson said he used to be a part of it – now he’s trying to end gang violence through outreach.
“It’s just total chaos and this is what they’re used to. This is nothing new to them. So they’ll keep doing it, keep doing it, keep doing it. It’s nothing that’s going to change, unless we change,” he said.
Tuesday night a 21-year-old woman was shot to death on Highway 180. Her passenger and boyfriend, 21-year-old Michael Garcia was also shot several times.
It happened hours after his release from jail when he was acquitted of a June 2019 murder.
Officers said someone drove up beside them and opened fire.
“It was very clear they were waiting for him outside the jail,” Garcia’s attorney Eric Castellon said.
Castellon believes it was a planned out gang hit.
“You can imagine the high of the joy of him being free and only to find out roughly seven hours later that he’s been shot and she’s been killed, it’s one of the best days of my life and one of the worst.”
Lt. Larry Bowlan with the Fresno Police Department says there have been 37 homicides this year — 22% more than this time last year. Of those, 26 are confirmed gang-related.
The number may be higher, but Bowlan said many times witnesses won’t talk.
“We’ve had a murder every single day for the last four days in our city and then we had three actually within 12 hours last Wednesday,” he said.
He also said gang sweeps are not happening right now, but starting this week the department is increasing resources on the streets. They’ll be focused on areas where these shootings are happening and where ShotSpotter technology is being activated.
“We are going to have motor officers out there more at night, we’re going to have our patrol tactical teams more out there at night, several more gang officers out there and any overages from patrol out there,” he said.
Robinson said what’s really needed is funding for grassroots organizations.
“So we have people on the ground doing the work that can actually infiltrate neighborhoods, go and talk to gang members,” he said.
This is exactly what Robinson does, and he said things won’t get better without the right resources.
“It has to be instilled in them again. They have to be guided right. Right now there’s no guidance so they have no one telling them ‘Hey don’t do that.’ Everyone is saying ‘Do, do, do’ no one is saying ‘Don’t don’t don’t.’
The group ‘Stop the Violence’ is hosting a Town Hall Friday, discussing the violence along and figuring out solutions.