OAKLAND -- A 17-year-old boy who will be prosecuted as an adult for his suspected participation in the Monday morning robberies of a group of casual carpoolers in the Rockridge area is a former McClymonds High School football star who was named to several all-star teams, officials said Wednesday.
Dajon Ford, and Delante Johnson, 22, of Oakland, were each charged Wednesday with 10 counts of armed robbery and two counts of attempted armed robbery. Johnson was also charged with one count of carrying a concealed firearm and carrying a loaded firearm. The pair, who were arrested after witnesses identified them, were expected to be arraigned Wednesday.
A former coach said Wednesday he was shocked that Ford, his former team captain who earned a college scholarship in New Mexico but returned to Oakland, is facing robbery charges.
"I'm shocked and disappointed in the same breath," said Curtis McCauley, now an assistant coach at Berkeley High School. "I hope he gets it together and eventually will learn from this and is offered a second chance to turn his life around."
The counts stem from the robbery or attempted robbery of 12 people waiting in a casual carpool line in the 400 block of Hudson Street about 8:55 a.m. Monday. Backpacks, cellphones, iPhones, purses and wallets were taken, police said.
Besides the 12 people who are confirmed victims, there could be additional ones who still need to be located, Oakland police Officer Nick Calonge said. The victims were approached by three suspects wearing hooded sweatshirts and robbed at gunpoint, police said.
A witness got a description of the car the suspects fled in and a partial license plate. The car was stopped by police in the 2900 block of San Pablo Avenue, and Ford and Johnson were arrested. A third man in the car at the time of the arrests was questioned and released.
Police said Ford, who is listed as 6 feet 3 inches tall and 275 pounds, admitted his involvement in the robberies. Johnson denied involvement. None of the items taken were recovered, but three guns were seized at Ford's West Oakland home, where police served a search warrant.
Ford, who turns 18 in October, was a three-year varsity football player at McClymonds, where he played as a guard. In that time span the school won three consecutive league championships, garnering the league's Silver Bowl. In 2012, Ford, then a junior, was part of the school's historic 12-0 season.
He was named all-state last year and was all-league in 2011 and 2012. He was also third-team All-East Bay and played in an Alameda County-Contra Costa County all-star game in December 2012.
He graduated in June and received a scholarship to New Mexico Highlands University but returned after apparently having eligibility problems, officials said.
"I'm not going to make any excuse for him," McCauley said. "He knows right from wrong; he's been taught and mentored. Life is about choices.
"If he chooses to hang around with the wrong crowd he has to be accountable. I thought that he would be a young man with a future and be one of the success stories coming out of West Oakland. Unfortunately, he fell on the wrong side of the equation."
Michael Peters, currently the football coach at McClymonds, said he was "hurt" by news of Ford's arrest.
"He shouldn't have come home. He should have stuck it out," Peters said. "I'm sick right now."