A woman walking her dog at 3 p.m. Friday stumbled upon Larry Lovette lying on the sidewalk near Dimond Park. He had been shot to death. Just one half-hour before that, a 22-year-old man had been fatally shot in the Fruitvale district.
At 4:15 p.m., Eddiebo Rodriguez was shot several times while driving on West Street in West Oakland. Whoever killed him shot up some nearby homes in the process. Thankfully, no one else was injured. Then at 8:20 p.m., police found 17-year-old Ken Harbin shot to death on Hillside Avenue in East Oakland.
The carnage Friday took the insanity into a new stratosphere. Four street killings within six hours. Just like that, we're at six killings in five days. All except one
Here is what that should tell you. The people shooting don't care who sees them or who gets hit.
At what point do we say that we have crossed a threshold, the violence in our city is so out of control that we cannot expect our police department on its own to stop it? That 15 deputies from Alameda County, though welcome, aren't going to cut it. That we don't have the luxury of waiting around for years' worth of police academies to get more police on the street.
That we need to take drastic action to stop the catastrophic loss of life -- mostly young lives.
I believe that time is now. It is time for the Oakland City Council to give serious consideration to declaring a state of emergency. That
No one wants to see the National Guard on our streets. But we are running out of options.
Police Chief Howard Jordan said Saturday that there is "an all-out war" between two groups in Oakland over -- you're not going to believe this -- a girl. The girl, whom Jordan did not identify, was the girlfriend of someone in one of the groups that is now running all over Oakland shooting. She was fatally shot by a rival group. So, basically, we have our own Hatfields and McCoys.
Jordan said that police at first thought there were two groups in East Oakland doing most of the shooting. But then one merged with a group in West Oakland.
"That's why a bunch of stuff is happening in East and West Oakland," Jordan said. "These guys don't care, and they have a deep-seated hatred for each other."
Police have arrested some of the leaders, but the groups are so large it's been an uphill battle.
The frequency of shootings is so crazy that while I was on the phone with Jordan on Saturday morning, he got a report that three other people had just been shot -- thankfully not killed -- in East Oakland. Of course, that means that the group they belong to will lose no time retaliating.
Friday had actually begun with some encouraging news.
Public safety officials had announced at a morning news conference that police had conducted several early morning raids on an East Oakland crime group suspected in several killings and robberies. OPD -- with the help of other law enforcement agencies -- rounded up seven men in Oakland, El Sobrante and Santa Cruz, seizing firearms and drugs.
Jordan said at the news conference that it was one of the 15 violent crime groups responsible for 60 percent of the shootings in East Oakland and one of the 15 that law enforcement is targeting through Ceasefire. Groups identified by Ceasefire have been tied to Oakland's first homicide of 2013, the fatal shooting of Tyronta Mickens, 17, who was killed Monday while he sat in a car, as well as the nonfatal shooting of a 19-year-old on San Leandro Street on Dec. 28.
The city's violence prevention strategy attempts to fight the street shooting epidemic by focusing on the groups responsible for most of the carnage rather than individual criminals. Members of the groups are summoned to a meeting -- a "call-in" -- with law enforcement, clergy and community members. Then they are warned that if they don't stop shooting, law enforcement will come after them with a full-court press. Not just OPD, but the county, state and feds. This particular group had been given the tough message.
"These individuals were given warnings but did not adhere to the warnings," Jordan said.
Less than four hours later, bodies started dropping.
Could the police raids have helped trigger the Friday shootings?
Jordan said it's too early to tell, though he did not rule out that possibility.
The escalation in shootings, he says, indicates that Oakland needs Ceasefire as well as stepped up law enforcement citywide because the violence is spreading.
Yet when you have chaos in so many different places at once, how do you even begin to restore some semblance of sanity to our city's streets? How can you mount an effective defense against violent crime when you have a police department that is hemorrhaging bodies even as the criminals become more and more bold?
The answer is, you can't.
Oakland cannot continue to expect the impossible from its police department.
We need help. Oakland City Council? Mayor Quan? Gov. Brown? Are you listening?