Grappling With Oakland's Violence: State of Emergency?

Using a mural of 3-year-old Carlos Nava killed last year by a stray bullet in Oakland, city leaders on Monday addressed the rise of violence in the city - again. But the police chief stopped short of formally requesting that Oakland be put in a "state of emergency."

Speaking at a news conference, Police Chief Howard Jordan said the department is "already working under a state of emergency,'" and that he's already asked for help, and is getting it. 

Fifteen deputies from the Alameda County Sheriff's Department area already working with OPD, along with United States Marshals, the California Highway Patrol and ministers. The city is asking the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to track down some of the guns confiscated, too.

A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that sometimes frees up funds, orders agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans and sometimes give rise to a rationale for suspending rights and freedoms, depending on the situation.

In this case, however, Jordan said that putting Oakland into a formal state of emergency, would only yield seven days worth of help anyway. That would be a short-term fix, at best, he said.

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

The city has been in chaos as rival gangs have been shooting and killing each other now for weeks. The latest tally comes after five people were shot, but not fatally, on Sunday, and four people were killed within a span of six hours on Friday. Two weeks into the new year, and Oakland already is facing six homicides. Last year's homicide rate was 131, the most since 2006 when there were 148.

Some city leaders have said they want more than the status quo in terms of help for the city.

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, he told NBC Bay Area, it was time to put away the pride, and do whatever is needed to curb the violence in Oakland.

On Monday, City Councilman Noel Gallo also 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 that struck Oakland on Friday. We have determined the violence is occurring between several identified groups. These groups are involved in ongoing feuds with one another and continue to engage in retaliatory violence that we will absolutely not be tolerated."

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.

 These investigations are on going and anyone with information is asked to contact the Oakland Police Department Major Crimes Section-Homicide at 510-238-3821 or Crime Stoppers of Oakland at 510-777-8672 or the TIP LINE at 777-2805.

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

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