Nearly half the homicides with known motives in San Diego County last year were at the hands of gangs, says a San Diego Association of Governments study reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune. Law enforcement officials said the data reflect the rise in gang violence in 2007 over the previous year as gangs became more likely to use firearms. More gang members shot their victims at close range – an often deadlier method than drive-by shootings.
San Diego police gang Lt. Jorge Duran said the fatal gang attacks last year – up 55 percent from 2006 – prompted an aggressive police response. It included adding officers to the gang unit and working closely with other agencies on large operations. This year, “We’ve been successful at targeting the more violent gang members and locking them up,” Duran said. The shows that homicide victims tended to be older last year. The number of victims ages 25 to 39 spiked to 42 percent, an 18 percent increase. Researchers say there are no other data to explain the reason behind the increase.