OAKLAND — Nineteen-year-old Rachael Green held her high school diploma in her hands June 15. One week later she died after being shot during a candlelight vigil for a classmate who was killed just days before.
Gunmen opened fire on the group gathered in West Oakland at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, killing Green and wounding five people.
The shooting happened in a parking lot of the Acorn apartment complex in the 1100 block of Eighth Street, about a half-block from where the Oakland police union held a news conference Monday. The union had denounced city plans to lay off police officers, saying it would make the city more dangerous.
Police said Green was an Oakland resident. Wounded in the attack were a 14-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, a 15-year-old boy, a 16-year-old boy and an 18-year-old man. All live in Oakland except the 16-year-old, who police said lived in Tracy. Their names were not released.
The 14-year-old girl was wounded in the upper body, and the 16-year-old boy in the buttocks. They remained hospitalized Wednesday. The others suffered minor wounds and were treated and released.
Police said the people shot were part of a group of about 30 attending a vigil for Damon Williams, 17, who was killed Monday evening at a bus stop at Foothill Boulevard and 73rd Avenue. Williams lived in East Oakland but attended Ralph J. Bunche Academy, a high school in West Oakland.
Bunche Academy is where Green and Williams met, said Green's mother, Layla Sims. She described the pair as best friends.
Williams' mother, Angela James, said she did not know Green personally but said her son and Green went to the school prom together last year.
"It needs to stop," James said of the violence. "Stop it. It's ridiculous. People can't even mourn their kids."
Green was the fifth homicide victim in the past year connected with the school, Principal F.M. Brinkley said.
More than 100 people attended an earlier vigil for Williams, 7:30-10:30 p.m. Tuesday, near his East Oakland home, at which there was no trouble. Green did not attend that vigil, but it was not known if any of the other people shot in West Oakland had.
There were reports of gunfire from a passing car earlier in the day, but the vigil had been going on for more than an hour without incident before the shooting happened. Shots were fired a few minutes after a police officer who had been monitoring the event was dispatched to a call, officials said. Around-the-clock security guards for the apartment complex were changing shifts when the shooting broke out.
Sgt. Jim Rullamas said the gunmen approached the group and opened fire on them without warning. Dozens of shots were fired as people ran for cover. Green and two others were taken by ambulance from the scene while three of the wounded got to hospitals on their own. Green was pronounced dead at 12:48 a.m.
Police said they cannot rule out the possibility of the shooting being related to a West Oakland gang rivalry.
Rullamas said what makes the shooting even more tragic is "that someone would do this to people who were already mourning the death of a friend."
The Oakland Police Officers Association held its Monday news conference in a parking lot at Eighth and Adeline streets to protest the city's plans to lay off police officers to help close a $31 million budget deficit. The City Council is expected to vote this evening on cutting at least 80 police jobs and could cut as many as 136 more in January if voters do not approve new measures to help the city through its budget crisis.
On Tuesday, city officials indicated 80 officers would be laid off in July and more next year if concessions are not reached with the union.
Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering up to $35,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of the gunmen in Wednesday morning's shooting. Anyone with information can call police at 510-238-3821 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572 or 510-777-3211.