A Chula Vista city councilmember and a police captain hosted a virtual public safety meeting Tuesday night in hopes of quelling a community’s fears in the wake of two park shootings less than a week apart.
On March 11 a 17-year-old boy was shot and killed at Sunset View Park in Chula Vista Eastlake neighborhood. Five days earlier a 15-year-old boy was shot but survived.
In both cases the victims were involved in illegal activity neither was from Chula Vista, CVPD Captain Phil Collum said via Zoom.
“I have worked here for 25 years. I struggle to think of a time when we've had two shootings in one small park in such a short period of time,” Collum said.
According to Collum, Chula Vista is one of several cities across the country experiencing spikes in violent crime. Year to date, the city has had a 200% increase in firearm incidents and a 400% increase in seizures of non-serial weapons known as a "ghost guns."
He blames the social stresses, economic pressures and psychological impacts of the pandemic.
He doesn't blame Sunset View Park, but CVPD has stepped up patrols in the area out of an abundance of caution. The heightened awareness includes deploying a specially-trained Street Team.
“Parks do not seem to be a significant impact in terms a of a focal point of crime,” Collum explained.
Collum said the Street Team works almost exclusively at night, and definitely on Fridays and Saturdays.
Despite the recent uptick in violent crime, overall crime is down in the city by 7%, Collum said.
“We are still a safe community. It is up to us -- us here in the police department, but also us in the community to work together to make sure that we stay that way,” Collum said.
Three suspects are in custody in connection to the deadly March 11 shooting. Earlier on Tuesday, one of the suspects, 22-year-old Deonte Martinez, pleaded not guilty to the crime.
Missing mother of three Maya Millette also came up at Tuesday's meeting. Collum said police are still no closer to knowing where she might be, but said investigators are following many leads.