OAKLAND -- Britt Tennell went to bed March 25 intent on finding someplace safer to live than Oakland's Adams Point neighborhood.
He had been walking to a market near Lake Merritt earlier that night when two men in hoodies approached. One asked to borrow his cellphone, Tennell said, so he could "call my peeps to let me in."
Tennell kept walking. But as he looked back to check if the men were going to jump him, he saw them dart toward another man who was getting into his car at the corner of Lee Street and Van Buren Avenue.
"They pulled him out and just pummeled him," Tennell said. "A couple seconds later, I heard 'pop, pop, pop, pop.' I was terrified."
Tennell watched the two robbers disappear into darkness and tended to the victim, who had noncritical gunshot wounds to his hand and knee.
It was, remarkably, the second robbery-related shooting in less than a year at the intersection, which is near well-kept apartment buildings that are home to many young professionals.
In September, an off-duty San Francisco Sheriff's Department deputy shot a 17-year-old attempting to rob him and his girlfriend.
"I thought, 'I need to move tomorrow,'" Tennell said. "I've lived in this neighborhood for a dozen years, and I don't feel safe anymore."
But he had a quick change of heart. Two days after the incident, Tennell helped organize a show of solidarity at the intersection that drew 75 residents.
Last month, Tennell, along with neighbors Mary Boergers and Maura McLoughlin, organized the first walking patrol in Adams Point in several years.
Twenty-five people showed up at Lee and Van Buren shortly after dusk and walked the neighborhood north of Lake Merritt for an hour hoping to make robbers look elsewhere for victims.
Neighborhood walking patrols have come and gone in Oakland as robbery and burglary rates fluctuated. But with the city facing its worst robbery surge in two decades, the patrols are starting to make a comeback.
On the other side of Lake Merritt, in Haddon Hill, a core group of about 10 people have been doing walking patrols every Wednesday for nearly three years. Another walking group has formed in the Temescal district.
One neighborhood near Mills College is considering having residents escort neighbors home from bus stops after dark, after a woman last month was mugged after getting off at her stop.
There's no evidence that community patrols deter robberies, said Hoang Banh, an Oakland neighborhood services coordinator, who walked with Adams Point residents.
But the gatherings have helped neighbors get to know each other and serve as eyes and ears for police, she said.
The Haddon Hill walking group has been handing out fliers to residents on the south side of the lake either commending them for keeping their properties well lit, or asking them to improve outdoor lighting as a deterrent to robbers and burglars.
"We feel like we're doing something positive for the neighborhood and the city," Francesca Austin said.
The Adams Point walkers are modeling themselves on Austin's group. They plan to press property owners to improve lighting and build relations with police.
Robberies in Adams Point have doubled from about 50 in 2006 to 100 last year, Banh said. The biggest hot spots are the roads leading to the neighborhood's Whole Foods.
Will the patrols help in Adams Point? Tennell is convinced that if people get organized and come together, crime will drop.
And he said the neighborhood that won his heart 12 years ago was still too good to abandon.
"I'm not going to hide in my apartment. I'm not going to pack my boxes, and I'm not going to move," he said. "I'm staying."
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.