SAN FRANCISCO – The residents of a gentrifying neighborhood plagued by gang violence came together to mourn the killings of four young black men shot dead as they sat inside a stolen car.
Police said the killings are gang related but no suspects have been publicly identified.
The San Francisco Police Department's gang task force and homicide detectives were investigating the Friday night shooting, police spokesman Albie Esparza said. Police have stepped up patrols since then, but that has done little to bring calm to residents afraid of retaliation killings.
A prayer vigil was held Monday night at the San Francisco Zen Center, across the street from where the young men were killed.
"I was commenting on how I hadn't heard of shootings or there hadn't been any murders in the neighborhood in so long, in a number of years," resident Lynne Winslow told KGO-TV. "It used to be so common."
San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said preventing a reprisal attack was a priority. Suhr said four guns were likely used in the shooting and that two were recovered in the stolen car.
Community leaders said parents and residents were afraid of more violence in reprisal for the killings and were keeping their children inside.
"Our community is bleeding," said Mattie Scott, a community activist whose 24-year-old son was slain in the same neighborhood in 1996. "Fear is a major issue right now."
The coroner identified the dead as David Saucier, 20, of Antioch, and San Francisco residents Yalani Chinyamurindi, 19, Harith Atchan, 21, and Manuel O'Neal, 22.
The four men were shot dead a few blocks from San Francisco's golden domed City Hall where trendy cafes, antique stores and popular restaurants continue to open in a neighborhood long plagued by gang violence. Ten men and a woman are currently in jail awaiting trial on federal charges of murder, racketeering and a host of other counts connected to a gang authorities say is based in the neighborhood.
A makeshift memorial of candles, flowers and handwritten signs appeared on the sidewalk next to where the shooting occurred across the street from the Samovar Tea Lounge and the San Francisco Zen Center. Two bullet holes remained visible in an empty store front. Graffiti mourning one of the men slain was spray painted on a nearby apartment building.
Yalini Chinyamurindi's mother told the San Francisco Chronicle that her son was at the "wrong place at the wrong time."
Asale-Haqueenyah Chandler said her son worked at a nearby Japanese restaurant, was on his 30-minute break, and was headed to a liquor store to cash his paycheck.
"He called his friend to pick him up," Chandler said. "He only had a half hour. He wanted to give me some money toward our rent and save money for a car."
Witnesses reported more than a dozen shots were fired into the double-parked car.
"I heard 'pop, pop,' about 15 times in quick succession," said Jason Palmer, who was walking his dog two blocks away when the killings occurred. Palmer, an actor who moved to San Francisco 18 months ago, said the neighborhood is plagued with graffiti and crime.
Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com