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San Diego police grapple with 6-month surge of violent crime

Over the last two weeks alone, police said 17 violent crimes or suspected crimes took place in the city including the murder of an infant.

SAN DIEGO — A "disturbing" increase in violent crime has beset San Diego this year, much of it involving gang activity and the use of largely untraceable "ghost guns," authorities said Wednesday.

"It is concerning as the chief of police," san San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit, speaking to the media Wednesday. "It is concerning for community members that people are losing their lives on our streets."

Overall, the city has seen a 129% increase in gang-related shootings since Jan. 1, according to the San Diego Police Department. During the six-month period, the SDPD has recovered more than 1,000 guns as part of criminal investigations -- nearly 20% of them weapons assembled from kits and lacking serial numbers, making them difficult to link to the criminals who made use of them.

"It's concerning, the number of firearms that are in prohibited people's hands, whether because they are criminally involved are they have a mental illness and they're not allowed to have a firearm," Nisleit said. 

"I don't recall a period like this in recent years," added Nisleit, who has served on the force for over 33 years, "It is concerning to me."

"There has been a disturbing surge of violent crimes in our city," department spokesman Lt. Adam Sharki said. "All too often, these crimes involve gang violence and the use of firearms."

Especially worrisome is the fact that traditionally, San Diego generally sees an uptick in crime during the summer, which has just begun.

The possibility of gang retaliation is also a concern, Chief Nisleit said, particularly as we head into this holiday weekend.

"So what I am concerned about is that we are going into a Fourth of July with a very violent weekend," he said. "I'm concerned about these retaliatory acts, so we are working with not only our law enforcement partners but our community partners to try drive down any retaliatory acts."

Over the last two weeks alone, police said the following 17 violent crimes or suspected crimes took place in the city:

-- Homicide, 6900 Eastman St., Tuesday;

-- Attempted homicide, 4100 Fairmount Ave., Tuesday;

-- Attempted homicide, 4400 University Ave., Tuesday;

-- Non-fatal shooting, 4300 Alamo Drive, Monday;

-- Homicide, 4599 Ladera St., Monday;

-- Non-fatal shooting, 4200 Altadena Ave., Saturday;

-- Homicide, 300 Market St., Saturday;

-- Suspicious death, area of West Washington Street and Interstate 5, Saturday;

-- Non-fatal shooting, 54th Street and Imperial Avenue, Friday;

-- Illegal discharge of a firearm, 3800 Highland Ave., Friday.

-- Non-fatal shooting/armed robbery, 3700 Sixth Ave., Friday;

-- Homicide, 2800 Boston Ave., Thursday;

-- Homicide/child abuse, 300 53rd St., June 21;

-- Non-fatal shooting, 1325 S. 28th St., June 21;

-- Homicide, 4100 F St., June 20;

-- Homicide, 7800 Burlington Way, June 18; and

-- Homicide, 2900 Camino Del Rio N., June 17.

"SDPD is working hard to stop further violence by collaborating with its longstanding community partners," Sharki said. "SDPD is also conducting proactive patrols and investigations focusing on violent crime, gang violence and getting illegal guns off the street."

Department officials urge anyone with information about any of the listed cases to call San Diego County Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477 or contact the agency online at sdcrimestoppers.org. Tipsters may remain anonymous and could be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.