Officials in Los Angeles on Saturday vowed to crack down on gang violence in the city after a gangster fired on two patrolling policemen overnight.
The 21-year-old gang member was shot by police and critically wounded Friday night after he opened fire on two plain-clothed officers in an unmarked car on patrol, police said. Neither officer was wounded in the incident.
Standing in front of the officers' bullet-riddled Buick, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and police chief William Bratton said gang violence is on the rise in the city and there had been eight officer-involved shootings so far this year.
Last year there were 21 officer-involved shootings, and if the current situation continues, the number of officer-involved shootings would increase five-fold, the police said.
The mayor and the police chief said they would unveil new strategies to curb gang violence next week, but declined to outline the plans.
"We will not tolerate more violent attacks on innocent Angelenos, and certainly not tolerate violent attacks on the brave men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department," said Villaraigosa.
The two officials said part of the blame for the rise of gang violence in Los Angeles lies with school dropouts.
"The supply of firearms is still too readily available in the city, in the hands of too many young people who are dropouts of the school system and who have basically too much time on their hands," said Bratton.
He said the recent spate of officer-involved shootings was not a sign of a targeted campaign against the police, but instead, a result of gang members' mindless violence, which is sparked by a "simple glance," clothing color and a "phenomenal" disrespect for law enforcement.
Villaraigosa, who has been fighting to partially take over the Los Angeles Unified School District, said there was a real connection between the failure in local schools and rising gang violence.