OAKLAND — An Oakland High School junior, who a relative said lost his mother to cancer four months ago, was shot to death Thursday evening when he went to answer a knock at the door of his home.
A gunman fired several shots through the door before the victim, Phillip Wright, 16, could open it, hitting him at least once.
His grandparents and other relatives were inside the home in the 9400 block of Oscar Avenue when the shooting happened about 5:10 p.m. Thursday, but no one else was injured, police said. The teen died at 5:42 p.m.
Homicide Sgt. Sean Fleming said police think the gunman may have targeted the wrong residence, believing someone else lived there.
"(The gunman) didn't care who was behind the door," Fleming said. "Right now it looks like Phillip was just an innocent victim."
Phillip's grandfather, Lee Oliver, agreed.
"He was an innocent kid," Oliver said a few hours after the shooting. "He's never been in trouble, he had a job. He was a good kid, a great kid."
Oliver said Phillip and his two older brothers and their mother had lived with he and his wife for eight years. He said his daughter died four months ago of cancer.
He said his grandson loved sports, music and video games and always did what he was told.
Oliver said he cradled his bleeding grandson in his arms before police and paramedics arrived. "I told him 'I love you.'"
Elizabeth Kendall, director of the East Oakland Boxing Association on 98th Avenue where Phillip worked as an intern and had attended since he was 10, said Friday he was "a wonderful, wonderful kid. He was very mature, happy and excited about life."
She said youths learn various skills at the association to help prepare them for different careers. She said Phillip had expressed interest in water conservation, construction work and particularly gardening.
He especially enjoyed participating in a program where the association grows vegetables to sell to the community.
"This is a shame," Kendall said. "It's real, real, real sad. He was an innocent, innocent kid. "
The killing was Oakland's 97th homicide of the year. Last year at this time there were 112 homicides in the city.
Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering up to $20,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of the killer.
Anyone with information can call police at 510-238-3821 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572 or 510-777-3211.