San Diego Police are stepping up their presence in Mission Beach to stop gun violence near Belmont Park.
Mission Beach has always been a family-friendly area that attracts people of all ages. But this summer, three recent shootings have rocked people to their core.
Kelly Sexton’s truck was caught in the crossfire during Monday night’s shooting where her friend, and fellow vendor, were shot in the back.
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“I’m scared,” Sexton said.
Sexton is still traumatized by the experience. Police say enough is enough.
The latest shooting happened after 9 p.m. on Labor Day in the Belmont Park parking lot, after San Diego Police Captain, Scott Wahl said officers had left the area for the evening.
“It was an excellent weekend we had no issues, no problems Friday, Saturday or Sunday, Monday all day,” Wahl said. “An hour after we took our command post down -- in the exact same spot that our command post vehicle was -- we had a shooting. So, what that tells us is that when police officers are here there are no problems. When police officers are not here that’s when the issues arise.”
Since Monday’s shooting, the police department has implored the city to install new, brighter LEDs, to shine a light on potential crime in the area.
“We are alarmed by that. We aren’t going to tolerate that kind of behavior and those levels of crime,” Whal said. "There are crews out here already changing the lighting. We want to make sure there are no dark corners for people to hang out in. We’re going to add more police officers to the area. We have a command post that’s down here around the clock.”
Since June 1, San Diego Police have confiscated 35 guns in the Mission Beach area alone, 21 were “ghost guns” as they were not serialized and were unregistered.
“Nobody deserves to be shot coming down here to the beach,” Wahl said. “It’s really ridiculous that we’re even talking about it and the message we want to send is, 'We’re not gonna tolerate it.'”
Police aren’t sure what’s causing the spike in gun violence, but they believe their presence makes a difference.
“The groups that are hanging out here are all walks of life, all different races, all different parts of town. The one thing that they have in common, these folks when you see them, you can tell they’re out there looking for trouble,” Wahl said. “They’re confrontational, they’re challenging people and these are the type of guys that when you run into them in a dark alley in the middle of the night, you know it’s a bad situation.”
San Diego City Council President Jennifer Campbell’s issued the following statement regarding Crime at Mission Beach:
“I am alarmed by the spike in crime in Mission Beach over the past few months. Since June 1st, the San Diego Police Department has arrested 30 people in the area. Officers have confiscated 35 guns, some of them ghost guns.
This criminal activity is simply unacceptable. People should not have to fear for their safety when enjoying our beaches.
To combat this problem, SDPD will increase their presence in the area and the City will enhance lighting near Belmont Park. I will continue to work with Chief Nisleit and Mayor Gloria to do whatever I can to make the beach area safer for residents, businesses and visitors.”
Uniform and undercover officers will be rotating throughout the day at the beach. The department said it will also start enforcing the 2 a.m. parking lot closure.
Luckily, no one has been killed in these recent shootings. Police said the youngest person found carrying a gun at the beach was 16. The oldest was 60.