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Mayor Darrell Steinberg responds in wake of deadly 24 hours in Sacramento

The mayor says the downtown core remains generally safe while outlining steps being taken to prevent violent crime across the city.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento Mayor Darrel Steinberg addressed the latest wave of violence in Sacramento that led to four deaths in the past 24 hours.

The mayor  acknowledged the tragedies that have occurred and resulted in the loss of numerous lives. He and other city officials continue to voice their assurances of safety in Sacramento’s Downtown and Midtown areas -- despite these deadly and high profile, yet seemingly isolated, incidents.

“These are human beings that leave behind grieving families,” Steinberg said, following a pre-scheduled event in South Sacramento.

Business owners, residents and regular patrons of downtown and nearby establishments have mixed feelings and concerns about the incidents.

“It’s a little scary, but I do feel like this area is still pretty safe but it’s just getting crazy how people are bringing guns around everywhere,” said Clarissa Kitto, owner of Nine 27 Salon near J and 28th Streets, where a man was shot to death Sunday.

The mayor also doubled down on his support for the Sacramento Police Department’s recent efforts to combat violent crime. The department has removed more illegal guns through confiscation and buybacks than ever before, Steinberg said. He explained the police department has also increased Downtown and Midtown patrols to include more officers.

“We’re going to keep fighting for the Sacramento we want,” Steinberg said. "I am under no illusion about the way people feel, not just in the city but you know throughout society now and we’re living in a very fragile state,” Steinberg said.

On Sunday, in a rare release of enforcement actions taken by Sacramento Police, department spokesperson Sgt. Zach Eaton announced 16 police officers were in the downtown area when a “disturbance” at a Midtown sports bar spilled into the streets and ended with shots fired and a man killed.

Police arrested the suspect 23-year-old Michael Escobar after he was on the run for less than 24 hours. Officials made the arrest in West Sacramento with the help of the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team.

Even law enforcement officials admitted that they have little power to prevent these incidents if a person brings a firearm into a night venue or retrieves a gun from a vehicle. Instead, they’re calling on community members to notify authorities if and when they know there is a risk of violence.

“It’s very hard for us to prevent that once that step has already been taken,” Sgt. Eaton said.

Steinberg said the number of shooting victims and the number of Shot Spotter activations, a system used by law enforcement to detect potential gunshots, are both down by one third compared to the same time last year.

While voicing frustrations about the issues that are shared by much of the Sacramento community, Steinberg attributes the recurring issues to growing societal issues such as easy access to guns as a long-term problem that must be curbed.

“There is no question that the world has changed, the country has changed, and the city has changed over these last several years and we face unique challenges,” Steinberg said.

Facing criticism from community activists such as Berry Accius with Voice of the Youth, who’ve made repeated calls for long-term investment in community programs, Mayor Steinberg touted Measure L, a November ballot item that would support youth programs throughout the city.

The city currently contracts some 27 community organizations that organize weekly youth programs all across Sacramento. Those groups also provide workforce development, gang prevention and gun violence reduction programs. They receive some $23 million in city funds, roughly 7.5% of general funds.

The mayor says Measure L could provide an additional $10 million per year to support those programs. However, opponents which include District 3 Councilmember Jeff Harris and former Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo, argue that similar measures have failed twice. They describe Measure L as a “fiscally irresponsible” attempt to fund non-profits with monies that would otherwise fund essential city services.

When asked about what role businesses and nightclub venues play in the role of safety and security, Steinberg said they certainly have a responsibility to make sure firearms or other weapons are not brought into their establishment. Numerous area bars wand individuals for weapons during later hours and many use patron scan, a system that tracks who comes in and out.

While not making any commitments or proposals, in the coming days the mayor said he will be forming discussions with area businesses and groups for discussions about what more is need to halt the problem.

Meanwhile, the mayor said none of this abdicates officials from holding the individuals accountable in all instances of community violence or in the case of the Sunday shooting in Midtown –“That is not inconsistent with holding a knucklehead accountable and legally accountable for picking up a Goddamned gun and shooting somebody,” Steinberg said.


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