sfpd_crimescene.jpgSan Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr and Supervisor David Campos joined together today to discuss ways the city is trying to quell recent violence in the Mission District.

Three homicides and several other shootings have been reported in the Mission in the past two weeks, prompting police to put extra officers in the neighborhood and step up its outreach to the community, Suhr said.

The uptick in violence is “a paramount concern to the city family,” Suhr said.

The most recent death was early Tuesday morning near South Van Ness Avenue and 20th Street, where Jose Matias-Aguilon was fatally shot in what Suhr said was a random street robbery.

Two people were arrested on suspicion of Matias-Aguilon’s murder 20-year-old Sterling Samm and a 14-year-old boy, police said.

On Oct. 24, Cesar Bermudez, 19, was killed in what Suhr said was a personal dispute between two members of the same criminal street gang.

The third homicide in the last two weeks was of 19-year-old Jose Escobar who was fatally shot near 16th and Caledonia streets on Oct. 20, Suhr said.

The homicides bring the Mission District’s total to eight for the year, compared to five at this point in 2011. San Francisco has a total of 58 homicides in 2012, compared to 44 at the same time last year, police said.

Campos, who represents the Mission District, said the city recently set aside $30,000 for the Northwest Community Response Network, an organization that helps mediate between rival gangs and helps victims and families in times of crisis.

“They literally place themselves between rival gangs … and put their lives on the line,” Campos said.

Ricardo Garcia-Acosta, program director of the organization, said the funds helped pay for extra hours of service the past two weeks to help family members of victims and to keep an eye on vigils for them.

“It’s important that we have a community presence there,” Garcia-Acosta said. “There’s a potential for violence, a potential for retaliation.”

Suhr said police need the community’s help in preventing more violence by reporting possible warning signs or other tips.

“People will say when something happens, ‘I knew that was going to happen … I knew he or she was headed for trouble,’” he said. “Don’t tell us afterward, tell us before that kid can use that gun.”

Community members can give anonymous tips to police at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411 with “SFPD” at the start of the message.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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