Saturday’s shooting near Lake Merritt that killed one and injured seven others was likely tied to gang violence in San Francisco, Oakland Police Chief LaRonne Armstrong said Monday.
Oakland police homicide investigators believe the shooting, which happened around 6:20 p.m. during a Juneteenth celebration that included some 5,000 people, involved multiple shooters, Armstrong said during a briefing.
Roughly 10,000 people were around the entire lake, and half of those were located on the 2200 block of Lakeshore Avenue, where the shooting occurred.
“We continue again in the city of Oakland to see far too many guns, particularly people willing to use guns in our city,” Armstrong said.
The victims of the shooting range in age from 16 to the mid-60s, Armstrong said, and the seven who were hospitalized are in stable condition.
The man who was fatally shot, a 22-year-old resident of San Francisco, has yet to be identified. Oakland police officials claimed that at least some of the victims, including the man who was killed, were intentionally targeted.
“This is not the first San Francisco-related group-and-gang shooting we’ve seen in the city of Oakland,” Armstrong said. “This is a problem we’ve been trying to manage for the last several months.”
“Some of the victims are tied to a gang or group from San Francisco, and the opposing party is likely also a gang or group from San Francisco,” said Oakland Acting Police Captain Leo Sanchez on Monday.
Oakland police officials said they’re working with the San Francisco Police Department and its Gang Task Force to determine a possible motive for the shooting.
Armstrong also addressed the groups of people who, in videos posted to social media, were shown dancing on the roof of an ambulance and blocking the path of first responders trying to reach the shooting victims, describing them as “unsympathetic.”
“We also had some people that stood up, that actually helped out and helped open up traffic,” he said. “We thank them for their efforts, we appreciate those that stepped up and helped us get the emergency services that were needed to the victims that were suffering.”
Two men with guns were arrested in the aftermath of the shooting after they were seen running from the Lake Merritt area, Armstrong said. Neither man is believed to have been involved in the shooting, he added.
Oakland City Council members Carroll Fife and Nikki Fortunato Bas, who both represent Lake Merritt, said in a joint statement Saturday night that they hope to help local law enforcement end violent crime within the city.
“We recognize the critical work police officers do to respond to violence and understand that a holistic, effective safety infrastructure includes violence prevention, arts and culture, youth programs, jobs, housing and so much more, in addition to police investigations that solve homicides,” the two council members said.
While local officials have sparred over the last year about how much funding to allocate to the Oakland Police Department, Armstrong said that the department’s main job, regardless of its size, should be helping people stay safe. Approximately 60 police officers were located in and around the crowd of roughly 5,000 who were in the vicinity of the shooting.
“I don’t believe that you can police your way out of a problem like this,” he said. “If you put 100 or 200 officers, it doesn’t mean that somebody won’t do something dumb, it doesn’t mean that somebody won’t pull out a firearm and use it.”
The Oakland Police Department has investigated 60 homicides in 2021, compared to 33 this time last year.
People with information, video or photos from Saturday night are encouraged to contact the OPD homicide division at (510) 238-3821. Crime Stoppers of Oakland and the police department are also offering a reward of up to $40,000 for information that leads to one or multiple arrests in connection with the shooting.