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Gangs Start Gunfight At Juneteenth Celebration, People Dance On Ambulances Preventing Victims From Being Transported

Oakland, CA – The mass shooting that took place at Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland on Juneteenth was sparked by two warring gangs from San Francisco, according to investigators.

A 22-year-old man was killed and seven people were wounded after multiple people began shooting at one another during a large celebration at the lake, WITI reported.

“Our homicide investigators have determined that the individuals responsible were multiple shooters, not just one,” Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong confirmed during a press conference on Monday. “We’ve learned over the last couple of days that several people fired weapons during this event.”

Over 10,000 people attended the Juneteenth festivities on Saturday, and around 5,000 people were in the area when the shooting occurred, according to police.

The gunfire erupted in the 2200-block of Lakeshore Avenue near Brooklyn Avenue at approximately 6:22 p.m., WITI reported.

The victims included five men and three women, all of whom ranged in age from 16 to their mid-60s.

“We believe that individuals came to the city of Oakland and committed these violent acts,” Chief Armstrong said, according to WITI.

“Some of the victims are tied to a gang or group from San Francisco. And the opposing party is likely a gang or group from San Francisco,” Oakland Police Lieutenant Leo Sanchez added. “There is no evidence that there are any Oakland gangs involved in this.”

The identity of the man who was fatally shot has not been released, but police said he had traveled to the city from San Francisco.

The victim’s family said they think he was hit in the crossfire and denied he was involved in gang activity, WITI reported.

He leaves behind a young son.

The other seven victims are listed in stable condition, WLS reported.

Lt. Sanchez said some of the victims who were shot were targets, while others were unintentionally hit, according to The Mercury News.

“I think some of the individuals that were shot and injured, to include the individual that unfortunately passed away, I believe were targeted individuals,” he added. “There were individuals also that were just part of the festivities, part of the gathering, and were caught up in the crossfire.”

Police arrested two people after the attack, but neither of them was connected to the shooting, WITI reported.

Both have been charged with being in possession of firearms.

Chief Armstrong noted that “there were a large number of firearms” at Merritt Lake during the Juneteenth celebration, KNTV reported.

Some of the partygoers blocked ambulance who were trying to rush wounded victims to the hospital, Chief Armstrong told reporters.

“We had people who continued to dance in and around the ambulances preventing the ambulances from leaving the area,” he said.

“Tonight a joyous occasion at our Lake Merritt was marred by a senseless act of gun violence,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told WLS in a statement on Saturday.

She praised police for rushing towards the gunfire to render aid to the wounded victims during the ensuing chaos.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims, and I want to thank our officers for a quick response,” Schaaf said.

The number of fatal shootings in Oakland is up approximately 77 percent compared to the same time in 2020, The Mercury News reported.

At least 60 Oakland officers were patrolling the lake area during the Juneteenth festivities ahead of the shooting, but Chief Armstrong said police need the help of the community if they are going to stop gun violence.

“The community has to come together to deter people from participating in this activity,” he told The Mercury News. “Oakland is not okay with that. This entire city is not okay with this level of violence.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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