Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa disclosed Thursday that he strongly felt that the recent spate of shootings of African Americans were not based on race.

In the past several weeks, several African Americans have been shot by Latino gang members that have left some residents of the city shaken, fueling speculation that blacks might be the target of “ethnic cleansing.”

Villaraigosa was teary eyed at the recent funeral of Jamiel Shaw Jr., a Los Angeles football star who was gunned down by a Latino gang member. On Saturday Villaraigosa joined the Shaw family and dedicated a plaque to the slain teen near Shaw’s Arlington Heights home. Villaraigosa also visited Harbor Gateway, another recent trouble spot for interracial violence where a six-year-old boy was shot in the head by a Latino gang member.

He told Our Weekly that the recent shootings have left him extremely troubled.

“I am very concerned about the violence occurring in our city,” said Villaraigosa. “Even though statistics indicate that homicides are up and the gang violence is down, there’s been a number of outrageously sensational incidents of innocent people gunned down without provocation, and it must concern all of us. It also concerns me that some of this violence could be based on race and ethnicity, but it’s hard to say.”

Villaraigosa cited a recent study from the University of California at Irvine that indicated African Americans are more likely to kill another black person than to kill a Latino and that Latinos were more likely to kill another Latino than an African American.

Recent LAPD homicide reports also indicate that killings are not based on race, but that fatalities are being fueled by fights over territory and gang ties.

“I can tell you the statistics show that eight out of 10 homicides are done to African Americans by African Americans and nine out of 10 fatalities are done to Latinos by Latinos,” said Villaraigosa. “But even if one innocent victim is killed by gun violence, it’s one victim too many.”

Villaraigosa said that the city must take a proactive stance to combat gang violence. “We have to grow police department and invest in our young people and we also need to give our young people an alternative to gangs and guns. Without federal support, these shootings will continue to remain a problem.”