OAKLAND -- Fueled in part by the largest mass murder in the city's history, Oakland has surpassed last year's homicide tally.
If the pace continues over the next five weeks, Oakland will have the highest number of killings since 2008, when 125 people were slain.
"Every life is sacred," Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said. "That violence strikes the lives of so many people in Oakland is absolutely unacceptable, and it is our highest priority as public servants that we provide a safe life for everyone in our city."
Through Monday afternoon there had been 115 homicides in the city, five more than 2011. Of the 115 killings, four are considered "justifiable" killings, meaning they were self-defense or an officer-involved shooting.
The 115 homicides include seven who were killed April 2, when police say 43-year-old Oakland resident One L. Goh went on a shooting rampage at Oikos University. The former student, angry because he couldn't get a tuition refund, killed seven people and wounded three. The Oikos murders were the largest mass killing in the city's 160-year history.
The overall violent crime rate, which includes homicides, robberies and shootings, has jumped 23 percent over last year, police statistics show.
Chief Howard Jordan said Monday that he is both "saddened and disheartened" by the spike in violence in Oakland. "As the chief of police, I feel personally responsible," he said.
In July, Oakland had one of its worst episodes of sustained violence when seven people were killed over a span of seven days. Those killings came as FBI statistics showed a marked drop in violent crime nationwide. Further, police believe the seven killings were unrelated, strengthening the impression of a city in the grip of a widespread and dispersed pattern of brutality.
Police don't have motives in all of this year's killings. . But when a motive is clear, investigators have seen a jump in killings related to arguments and personal disputes. Eighteen people have been killed this year in that category as opposed to nine last year.
This year, there have been nine domestic violence-related cases, two more than last year. Also up this year are retaliation and revenge killings, where there has been at least 14, almost double last year's final confirmed number of eight, according to police.
Known gang-related killings are at 10, but that number could go higher as police continue their investigations into open cases. Last year, there were 15 confirmed gang-related killings.
One of the more disturbing trends this year is that 22 of the homicide victims are female, including two Sunday morning, compared to 10 for all of last year. That figure includes six women who were killed in the shooting rampage at Oikos University. Many others are linked to domestic violence, but there is also an increasing number of prostitution-related deaths, police said.
Police have already begun redeploying officers to deal with the spike in homicides and violent crime. They are also continuing to receive help from the California Highway Patrol and the Alameda County Sheriff's office to deal with the rise in violent crime.
Jordan has reinstituted the police and corrections team, which focuses solely on compliance checks with people on parole and probation who are often involved in violence as suspects or victims. Jordan said he has also beefed up the gang intelligence unit because of the continuing gang violence.
"We are asking the public to continue to provide information when they can to help us solve some of these murders," he said.
Quan, who was in China on business Monday, said through her spokesman Sean Maher that the city is "unbowed and undaunted" in its ongoing commitment to working for justice and peace immediately and in the long-term.
"We are forging and strengthening partnerships with numerous state and federal agencies to reduce crime, partnering with community members to fully implement the Ceasefire violence-reduction program ... and working with the City Council to steadily build the police department by funding at least two new police academies per year for the next several years," she said.