By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A recent uptick in violent crime in South Los Angeles and in other parts of the city could be related to the pandemic and the increased stress placed on community members, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said Friday.

Speaking to reporters in front of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Southeast Station, Moore described “a spasm of violence” in the area, including some 11 shootings and two homicides since Tuesday.

READ MORE: Día De Los Muertos Celebrations and Others Return To LA

The jump comes on the heels of an overall increase in shooting violence, with 39 additional homicides as a city versus last year and 101 additional shooting victims from 2019, according to Moore.

“This is a pace of shooting and violence that we’ve not seen in years, and it has grown from an effort that began (and) issues that we saw in June and July, and now has continued to accelerate,” he said.

According to Moore, so far this year, 40 people under 18 years of age have been shooting victims, including nine of whom were under 10 years of age.

“This is violence that’s impacting not just people standing on a corner against other individuals standing on a corner. This is violence that is hitting our very young and our very innocent,” said Moore.

Police, city and church leaders spoke out about the uptick in violent crime, pleading with the community to work with them.

“I have a 14-year-old aspiring football player who was gunned down and lost his life,” said Deputy Chief Regina Scott. “Just this week, I had a 19-year-old kid that had graduated from high school who has done everything we had asked him to do, and he lost his life…I reach out to the community that the Police Department can’t do this alone, we cannot arrest our way out of this, this takes a wholistic community approach for us to do this.”
READ MORE: Sigma Nu Fraternity At USC Suspends Member At Center Of Sexual Assault Allegations

Some of the increase in violence could be attributed to the coronavirus pandemic and associated stress felt by the community, particularly social distancing.

“We are social animals,” Moore said. “We exist as an entity that works better when we work together. And this pandemic is interrupting all of that. And it’s assisting — in my belief — to fueling that, not just here in Los Angeles but across the country.”

Moore – who was accompanied at the news conference by Los Angeles officials and community members he referred to as a “coalition” working with law enforcement to address the problems of violence – called on the City Council to continue to invest not only in the LAPD but also in “their intervention and prevention efforts.”

Lawrence Tolliver, a life-long South L.A. resident and owner of Tolliver’s Barber Shop, said he’s not surprised by the spike in shootings, but is concerned. He and his client 21-year-old Aaron Downs agree that the community needs to play a bigger part in reducing gang violence.
“The schools, the churches, the barber shops the beauty salons, anywhere where people can congregate and express their opinion, there has to be someone saying ‘This is the right course for you to take,’” Tolliver said.

Downs added: “We have little kids, 10 year olds, getting into gangs. That’s not right. Ten-year-olds should be in school. They should have fun and go outside and feel safe and protected, not being confronted by someone or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Both men also said they believe having consistent community dialogue with police is necessary.

MORE NEWS: USC Places Sigma Nu Fraternity On Interim Suspension After Reports Of 'Possible Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assaults,' Students Protest In Support Of Victims

“Anytime someone wants to come and listen, that’s a positive thing,” Tolliver said.