OAKLAND -- A reputed gang member has been charged in the fatal drive-by shooting Jan. 9 of a 20-year-old man in North Oakland that police said was retaliation for another killing last September.
And in a strange twist, a man also targeted in the Jan. 9 shooting, who was not injured, has been charged with murder in the September killing, police said Wednesday.
Charged Tuesday in connection with the Jan. 9 shooting was Billy Joe Drinkwater, 30, who police said is a member of a North Oakland gang. He was charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder, one count of shooting from a motor vehicle and one count of felon in possession of a firearm.
Authorities said he has three prior felony convictions, two for possession of cocaine for sale and one for grand theft.
Drinkwater is accused of killing Malik Birchett, who was slain about 2:30 p.m. Jan. 9 in the 600 block of 55th Street. He is also accused of trying to kill two men who were with Birchett but who were not hurt, one of whom was Desmond Provost, 22.
Officer Phong Tran said the motive for the attack on Birchett, Provost and the other man, was retaliation for the Sept. 1, 2012 shooting in the 800 block of 53rd Street that claimed the life of Lorenzo Ward, 29, an associate of Drinkwater.
Police said Provost and another man still being sought killed Ward. A motive was not released but police were able to identify Provost as a suspect through witness accounts and because he left his cellphone at the scene. A gun believed used in the Ward killing was found at Provost's home, police said.
Police were actively seeking Provost when the Jan. 9 shooting happened. Provost was able to elude police until his arrest Feb. 1 in Patterson. He has admitted his involvement in Ward's killing, police said. He has pleaded not guilty.
Drinkwater fled to Oklahoma a few days after Birchett was killed, police said. He was arrested Jan. 16 by U.S. Marshals in Oklahoma City and was later extradited to California. Police said Drinkwater has denied involvement in the Jan. 9 shooting.