The fatal shooting of a youth that marked the 124th homicide in Oakland this year and the fatal police shooting of a suspect were just part of another weekend of violence that prompted the police chief this week to call on the City Council to discuss the matter.
“I need help from leaders of this city,” Chief LeRonne Armstrong said at a news conference Monday afternoon at police headquarters on Seventh Street.
The chief said everyone must be invested in safety. The Oakland Police Officers’ Association, the union representing officers, has repeatedly called on the City Council to do their part. Armstrong wondered why the City Council has not had an emergency meeting considering the number of homicides in 2021.
Councilmember Loren Taylor was at the news conference and afterward said a special City Council meeting is planned for early December.
He said he is 100 percent behind unfreezing positions in the Police Department, but like the chief he does not believe the situation is so dire that the National Guard needs to step in to help.
The 124 homicides so far this year surpasses last year’s historic total and is many more than in previous years when the department’s Ceasefire program drove down homicides and shootings.
This year’s latest homicide was the youth who was found wounded Saturday night in the 3900 block of Carrington Street, near Global Family Elementary School.
Armstrong paused for 124 seconds at the beginning of the news conference to recognize the 124 lives lost and then described the weekend violence.
Encounters with caravans
On Friday, police encountered roving caravans of people in hundreds of vehicles that were targeting cannabis businesses. People in the caravans fired at police, who stayed at a distance, Armstrong said.
Later about 200 vehicles were involved in sideshow activity, which lasted until 4 a.m. in one location, Armstrong said.
“But Saturday over a 10-hour period we really saw things erupt,” he said.
Nearly two dozen incidents occurred on Saturday in Oakland. It started just before 3 p.m. when police responded to a report of an armed carjacking and robbery in the 2600 block of Fisher Avenue.
The suspect fled before officers arrived and police later located the suspect and the vehicle in the 4900 block of Clarke Street. As officers tried to speak with the suspect, he fired multiple rounds at them.
The suspect then retreated to the vehicle and fled again. For two hours, officers pursued the suspect by ground and air before the pursuit ended in the 5900 block of Ocean View Drive.
The suspect tried to flee again, nearly striking police and residents’ vehicles before a police emergency rescue vehicle blocked the suspect’s path.
The suspect got out of the vehicle armed with a gun. Police told the person to put the gun down and then opened fire, wounding him. He died later at a hospital, Armstrong said.
No officers or community members were injured in the melee and officers recovered the gun used by the suspect, police said. Armstrong said police will be releasing a video of the pursuit and shooting.
Another person was critically wounded in a shooting Saturday in the 1900 block of Foothill Boulevard near San Antonio Park Field.
More than 300 calls for service
Just past 11 p.m. Saturday, people in caravans were targeting mainly cannabis businesses and were shooting when employees or security confronted them as they tried to enter a business, Armstrong said.
Five of 30 people were arrested in the 8400 block of Enterprise Way. Following a report of an armed robbery and shooting in the 300 block of Pendleton, one suspect was arrested following an exchange of gunfire between the suspect and security.
Numerous other businesses were targeted. Police extended the shift of every officer to address the violence, Armstrong said.
“Simultaneously, we were trying to manage over 300 calls for service,” he said.
Sideshow activity occurred early Sunday morning. Over 500 vehicles participated in a sideshow near 98th and Bancroft avenues, according to the chief.
Six shootings occurred Sunday.
Armstrong on Wednesday said his department will increase the number of officers working this holiday weekend. Police officers will be deployed in tactical teams to support patrol officers responding to the caravans, sideshows, and roving gangs that are expected to come into the city.
The pledge came the same day that a security guard for a journalist was shot in a robbery, leaving the wounded guard in critical condition.
“We will be prepared to address it,” Armstrong said of the violence.
The chief is also ready to have officers arrest people police have talked to about the consequences of failing to put the guns down.
“Enforcement is afoot,” he said.