OAKLAND -- Investigators arrested one man in connection to the killing of two employees who were closing a chicken wing eatery near Lake Merritt late Monday night and predicted a second man could surrender soon.
Police have not released the name, age or city of residence of one man arrested shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday in West Oakland, and don't plans to release additional information Tuesday, said police spokeswoman Officer Johnna Watson.
Police have ruled out robbery as a motive in the killings but did not say what they believed led to the crime.
Jose Santa Maria, 26, and Kenneth Bradley, 22, both of Richmond, were on the job at the Wingstop fast-food restaurant at 528 Lake Park Ave., about a block from the Grand Lake Theater, ¿in the Grand Lake district Monday night.
About 11:45 p.m., 15 minutes before closing time, two men in orange construction vests came into the business. Something -- police aren't saying what -- happened, prompting an employee to activate a silent alarm, which is used to indicate a robbery in progress.
When police arrived a few minutes later, they found Santa Maria and Bradley shot to death. The shooters and everyone else was gone and the men were pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
At least four customers and two other employees besides the slain men were in the eatery at the time.
A spokeswoman for Wingstop reached Tuesday said the owner of the Lake Park Avenue eatery would not make a statement Tuesday.
National spokeswoman Leah Templeton released a statement, saying, "The Wingstop family is deeply saddened by the loss of two of our own, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families. We will do everything we can to support them at this tragic and very difficult time."
Both men had worked for the Wingstop in both Richmond and Oakland. Santa Maria had four years with the company, but it was not known late Tuesday how long Bradley was employed with the chain. Attempts to reach their families were unsuccessful late Tuesday.
The Wingstop on Lake Park Avenue was closed Tuesday and it was not clear when it would reopen.
The rare killings in the Grand Lake area left workers and residents there shocked and saddened.
There have been robberies in the area -- police recently put out a bulletin alerting people about an increase in holdups -- but no one could recall the last time someone was killed at a business.
"I've never felt unsafe in this area," said Robin Gulenchyn, 35, of Oakland, who works at the Cana restaurant next door to Wingstop. "It's completely out of the ordinary."
Video surveillance and witness tips led police to the suspect and to a two-door, older-model red car that was towed from a commercial parking lot one door down from the Wingstop. Police have not said how the car is linked to the investigation or who owns the car.
Pamela Drake, executive director of the Lakeshore Business Improvement District, called for business owners, employees and community to develop a strategy to deal with recent burglaries and violence.
"There have been more street robberies in that area recently. Not commercial robberies,'' said Interim Police Chief Sean Whent.
Police are holding an "urgent merchant meeting" from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church at 3534 Lakeshore Ave. to discuss the homicide, recent crime patterns and the department's response.
Oakland police Area 2 Capt. Anthony Toribio, Area 3 Capt. Rick Orozco, and Merchant Watch Coordinator Eddie Simlin will meet with Lakeshore, Lake Park, and Grand Avenue merchants.
"We need to pull together," Drake said. "Because no matter how many police we have, they can never be everywhere all at the same time."
Drake said she is trying to contact the owner of the restaurant to establish a memorial fund for the two men.
Nashon Holden, 30, lives nearby and eats at Wingstop regularly was walking by the business with a friend on Tuesday morning and saw the yellow police tape and thought the place had been robbed.
"I can't believe it. I'm in shock,'' he said when he learned of the murder. "Generally this area is very safe."
The killings bring Oakland's homicide total for the year to 49.
Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering up to $20,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest in the homicides. Anyone with information, including those who were at the Wingstop Monday night, should call police at 510-238-3821 or a tip line at 510-773-2805 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572. More information on the meeting is available at www.oaklandnet.com/merchantwatch
Staff writers David DeBolt and Rick Hurd contributed to this story. Contact Kristin J. Bender at email@example.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/kjbender. Harry Harris at 510-208-6443 and follow him at Twitter.com/HarryHarris15. Contact Natalie Neysa Alund at 510-293-2469 and follow her at Twitter.com/nataliealund