(Editor's note: There was a significant development on Apr. 13th involving one of the individuals who had been named in the below article as a shooting suspect by police. Chau Van is now suing the Oakland Police Dept. for mistakenly placing him on their most wanted list. Click Here to read the update.)
OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan on Tuesday blamed gangs in East and West Oakland for most of the 20 shootings in the city in the last week that have left five people dead and others wounded.
Jordan told reporters at a news conference at police headquarters that Oakland has had 14 homicides so far this year, which is two more than it had at this time last year.
"Quite simply, that's unacceptable," Jordan said, adding that he wants to address the problem before it gets out of control.
"I want to make Oakland one of the safer big cities in California," he said.
KCBS' Bob Melrose Reports:
Jordan said technology, such as a shot-spotting device that detects and locates shootings, have helped police respond to shootings but he said officers need community members to come forward to report shootings and identify suspects.
"On Monday morning, 911 received activation from ShotSpotter. Within minutes, our officers were on the scene with a gunshot victim and shortly after, arrested the suspect," said Jordan. "No calls were received from anyone within the community until 20 minutes later. ShotSpotter is an effective tool, but we still need the community to call in when shots are heard."
He said he's adding more officers to "hot spots" where many of the shootings have occurred but admitted that his resources are limited because he's had to re-direct many officers to respond to Occupy Oakland protests.
However, Jordan said it doesn't appear that suspects are timing their shootings to coincide with periods when police are busy dealing with such protests.
"These are crimes of opportunity - you shoot when you see someone you want to kill," Jordan said.
Jordan said he wants the public's help in catching what he described as the top four most wanted criminals in Oakland.
He provided their names but did not release their ages, descriptions or details about their alleged crimes.
Jordan said Robert Drawn is a homicide suspect and Chau Van is wanted for a shooting. He said warrants have been issued for Shameko Cobb and Nicholas Williams but didn't say what the warrants are for.
Jordan said that in collaboration with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives his department has established a gun tip line which is designed to address the possession, use and supply of firearms to intimidate, assault and commit illegal acts.
He said calls made to the tip line will be considered confidential if the caller wishes to remain anonymous and the ATF will provide a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for firearms-related homicides and firearms-related violence.
The tip line is (510) 517-8793.
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
for more features.