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'Spasm of Violence' Leaves Los Angeles Reeling After Police Budget Cut

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Police Chief Michel Moore called for calm on Friday after what he called a spasm of gun violence in South Los Angeles killed four and wounded 19 in the past six days.

The city so far this year has recorded nearly 40 more homicides than last year.

“This is a pace of shooting and violence that we’ve not seen in years,” Moore said as he and community leaders condemned the crimes.

The shootings have occurred across a nearly 60-square mile area that comprises 12 percent of the city’s population but now accounts for 39 percent of the homicides and 45 percent of the shootings, Deputy Chief Regina Scott said.

The city as a whole has recorded 39 more killings and 101 more shootings to date compared with last year.

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Moore, who has had his department’s budget trimmed as a result of the defund police movement, urged the City Council to continue to invest in the department.

Shootings in the area once known as South Central have claimed victims over a wide range of ages, but they have been particularly cruel to “our very young and our very innocent,” Moore said.

Forty victims have been under age 18, and nine of them were under 10.

A 14-year-old football player was among those gunned down in the past week. A young man who wants to become a police officer was ambushed in his car at a traffic light and wounded when he was shot in a case of mistaken identity.

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Some victims were gang members. But people have been picked off in cross walks and struck by gunfire in their homes.

A 79-year-old woman was shot standing beside her car, Scott said. A 77-year-old woman and her 58-year-old daughter were struck by gunfire inside their home.

Moore was accompanied by two city councilors, clergy and other leaders who called on community members to lay down their arms and not be afraid to speak out if they have witnessed a crime.

“We have so many of our young people that are dying for no reason at all,” Bishop Grover Durham of the Good Citizen Deeds Foundation said. “This has got to stop. … This is a call for a cease fire.”

City Councilmember Joe Buscaino, a former police officer, said trust remained high between the community and the Los Angeles Police Department, but he said officers need help to do their jobs.

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“It’s not going to take only the LAPD to help. It’s going to take you the community,” he said. “Come forward if you have information on these knuckleheads who are terrorizing our community.”

Scott, whose son and grandson live in the area, said that in addition to the four people killed since Sunday, 19 were shot and 11 were fired at but not struck.

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