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Oakland police chief: Shootings have residents living in 'fear and helplessness'

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In the two weeks since the start of the new year, Oakland, Calif. has already registered six homicides.

The city has been in chaos for the last several weeks as rival gangs have been shooting at each other. Over the weekend, 11 people were shot. On Friday, four people were killed within six hours. On Sunday, five people survived gunshot wounds. 

City leaders on Monday decried the gun violence that has rung out across the city in recent weeks. But Police Chief Howard Jordan stopped short of formally requesting that Oakland be put in a “state of emergency,” saying that the police department is already operating as though it is.


Jordan spoke after returning from the scenes of two recent homicides in neighborhoods where he said people are living in "fear and helplessness."

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Last year there were 131 homicides, the most since 2006, when there were 148.

Fifteen deputies from the Alameda County Sheriff's Department area already are working with Oakland Police, as is the U.S. Marshal Service, the California Highway Patrol and religious ministers. The city has asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to track down some of the guns.

A state of emergency is a government declaration that can free up money and potentially suspend rights and freedoms of residents, depending on the situation.

In this case, however, Chief Jordan said that putting Oakland into a formal state of emergency, would only result in just seven days of help. That would be a short-term fix, he said.

Vice Mayor Larry Reid told the Bay Area News Group this weekend: "We've lost control. It's time for us to declare a state of emergency."

On Monday, City Councilman Noel Gallo told NBC Bay Area that he supports "any tool that helps our police chief." 

Gallo added: "We've got to reestablish order."

In a statement, Oakland police said its department is "actively and aggressively investigating the four homicides on Friday.” The department said it has determined that the violence is related to ongoing feuds between several groups.

The Oakland Tribune reported that the rivalry is over a woman.

Here is what is known about Friday's homicides:

  • According to police, a 22-year-old Oakland man shot and killed around 2:30 p.m. Friday in the 2300 block of East 17th Street in the Fruitvale District. His name is being withheld pending notification of relatives.
  • Around 3 p.m., another man was shot and killed on Canon Avenue near Wellington Street, next to Dimond Park. He was identified as 30-year-old former Oakland resident Larry Lovette of Stockton.
  • At 4:15 p.m., 21-year-old Oakland man Eddiebo Rodriguez was fatally shot in the 3400 block of West Street in West Oakland. He later died at the hospital.
  • In East Oakland, a 17-year-old boy identified as Ken Harbin of Oakland was also fatally shot in the 9400 block of Hillside Street.

NBC Bay Area's Christie Smith contributed to this report.