Rise in homicides blamed on gang activity, family disputes, homeless violence

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Fresno has now tallied 55 deaths in the city, a more than 40-percent increase from last year where the city only had 38 deaths on record. More than half of this year’s violence is confirmed to be gang-related — but numbers show other things are contributing to the murder rate.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said 29 of 2017’s homicides have gang members as suspects or victims. He adds deadly gang violence can be triggered by something as simple as bumping into someone on the street.

“Sometimes that happens in neighborhoods, sometimes that happens in shopping centers,” Dyer said. “It’s difficult to predict where that violence might occur.”

Our digital team has been tracking homicides in all of Fresno County through an interactive map. In the city of Fresno, most of the crimes are in the city’s southeast, southwest and central policing districts.

Due to the violent crimes in those areas, Dyer said three special response teams will be stationed there. They will be comprised of six officers and one sergeant.

“They’re going to be concentrating on those individuals that are contributing to violence, which gangs are feuding.” he said. “[They will] be working very, very closely with our MAGEC unit and our street violence bureau.”

Dyer adds homeless-on-homeless crime is another factor in the skyrocketing murder rate. Also, many of the city’s transients are in fact criminals who are on probation or parole.

Family domestic violence is another key factor.

“We’ve had four cases where a son has taken his mother’s life. We have six cases of domestic violence where a husband has killed his wife. We have seven cases where a homeless person was either the victim and/or the suspect,” Dyer said.

2017 is also higher than 2016 with shootings: so far this year Fresno has had close to 500 shootings, compared to just 449 last year.

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