OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Answering a plea for state help, Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered California Highway Patrol officers to join Oakland police patrolling high-crime areas of the city in an effort to stem a deadly surge of violence that has claimed 77 lives already this year.
Newsom's order came after Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf formalized a request for CHP help first voiced by Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce President Carl Chan at a Tuesday news conference.
"We are responding to the demands of our residents for more law enforcement safety," Schaaf said in a news release. "I am going to continue to look for every resource. I am going to continue to try and get adequate staffing in the Oakland police department, especially for investigations. But to bring traffic enforcement – which is the job of the California Highway Patrol – into Oakland is an appropriate request, and I am so grateful the Governor has granted it."
However, Chan also asked for the declaration of a local state of emergency. During a Newsom news conference at an Oakland school on Wednesday, the governor said that wasn't necessary.
"One does not need to declare a state of emergency to assert the acuity of a crisis that needs to be addressed," he said.
At his news conference, Chan said that brazen violent crime was holding Oakland hostage.
Oakland and the city's Chinatown district has been hit hard by violent crime this year, with -- according to Chan -- 77 homicides happening in Oakland so far in 2021. In addition to the homicides plaguing the city, residents in Oakland's Chinatown -- particularly older residents -- have been repeatedly targeted in violent strong-arm robberies.
"The rash of shootings, carjacking, assaults and robberies hold the city of Oakland hostage," he said. "Citizens are living in the continuous state of fear for our safety, well being, livelihoods and future."
When Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong spoke with KPIX Tuesday, he agreed with Chan's comments and acknowledged that his department is stretched thing.
"Well, I think they're right in the sense that this department needs more resources and more help," Armstrong admitted.
Armstrong says his department is already accepting help from the ATF and the FBI to clear open cases, but he repeated what he has said in the past: that his force is overwhelmed.
On Monday, the Oakland Police Department confirmed it was investigating seven shootings including two homicides that happened over the weekend as well as more than a dozen robberies citywide. OPD said investigators are seeing an alarming trend in robberies where suspects were targeting victims carrying backpacks, purses, computer bags and electronic devices.
One of those robberies and shootings happened Saturday afternoon in broad daylight near the corner of Eighth and Franklin, which is one of Chinatown's busiest shopping areas.
The robbery-- which was captured on a nearby surveillance camera -- began when a pair of men hopped out of a car to grab the purses of two women on the sidewalk.
Two young men intervened and began struggling with the attackers before the assailants pulled out guns. Two shots were fired and one young man fell to the ground as the struggle continued. Both suspects then jumped back into their car and drove off.
The gunshot victim was shot twice -- in the shoulder and thigh -- and is lucky to be alive. In an interview Monday, the Good Samaritan who jumped into the fray and was shot said he would "do it again."
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