After a prolonged search, third suspect arrested in death of security guard in Oakland

(Image courtesy of Oakland Police Department)

A final arrest has been made in the shooting death of an Oakland security guard in 2021 after a manhunt that lasted more than two years, the Oakland Police Department said Thursday.

Laron Gilbert was taken into custody in Kansas City, Missouri on Wednesday by the U.S. Marshals Service, according to police.

Gilbert was wanted in the killing of Kevin Nishita in November 2021. Nishita was shot and killed while protecting a KRON-TV news crew on assignment at 14th and Webster streets in Oakland the day before Thanksgiving. Two other men, Shadihia Mitchell and Hershel Hale, have been charged in Nishita’s murder and have been in custody awaiting trial.

Oakland homicide investigators flew to Missouri to interview Gilbert and begin the extradition process, police said Thursday.

In September 2022, a reward of up to $40,000 was offered to anyone with information that might lead to an arrest of Gilbert, who had eluded law enforcement ever since the day of the shooting. Nishita’s widow Virginia Nishita was very vocal about finding Gilbert so that her family could find closure.

“Someone out there knows where Gilbert is hiding,” she said in September 2022. “Kevin spent his career as a police officer helping the citizens of the Bay Area. Now he needs your help finding the last remaining suspect still on the loose. Kevin deserves justice.”

Oakland police have not revealed how they zeroed in on Gilbert’s location, but in a press release Thursday, the department thanked the U.S. Marshals Service, the San Francisco Police Department and District Attorney’s Office, and the California Highway Patrol for their “tireless collaborative efforts over the years that led to this arrest.”

Mitchell and Hale were initially charged with murder, attempted second-degree robbery, assault with a semi-automatic firearm, and a special allegation of felony murder. All three defendants were thought to be criminal street gang members out of San Francisco.

Mitchell and Hale appeared in court last month after Alameda County District Attorney Pam Price decided to reduce their charges, removing the special circumstance charge of murder during the commission of robbery. In doing so, the defendants no longer face life in prison without parole if convicted, which has helped stoke a recall effort against Price.

Price released a statement about her decision, saying in part that the charges against the men remained serious. “We believe there is evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to charge both defendants … each with one count of first-degree murder, which carries with it 25 years to life sentences, as well as arming enhancements.”

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