OAKLAND -- Seven men were shot in a hail of gunfire that extended across three blocks of East Oakland on Monday night, police said.
Officers responded to reports of a shooting between 96th Avenue and Olive Street about 6:10 p.m. and cordoned off a second scene shortly after at 94th Avenue and Sunnyside Street, authorities said.
Seven men -- all between the ages of 23 and 31 -- were shot between the two crime scenes, officials said. Two of the men were in critical condition Monday night; five others were expected to survive.
It was unknown if any of the men were related or what motivated the shooting.
Some of the victims were taken to Highland Hospital while others were transported to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, officials said.
"This is really kind of outrageous," Oakland police Chief Sean Whent said after arriving at the scene. "Six o'clock at night isn't that late at night. (There were) a fair number of rounds fired out here, so (this is) really pretty brazen stuff on the street corner at that time of day."
Whent said it was possible that several people who were hit by the gunfire were not targeted in the shooting, and police were unclear Monday evening whether the shooter or shooters were on foot or in a vehicle.
He added, "We are obviously hoping somebody will come forward and provide some information about anything that would help us solve this."
A large group of people was outside at the time of the shooting, as residents reported a barbecue was being held on the street.
A 56-year-old neighborhood resident named Isabel, who declined to give her last name, said she was walking toward two friends outside a corner store on the northeast corner of 96th Avenue and Olive Street when she heard 10 to 15 shots ring out across the neighborhood. As her friends ran back inside the store, Isabel hit the ground as quickly as she heard the first shot.
"A bullet went straight through my ponytail, cut right through my hair," she said. "I hit the floor. Anytime you hear bullets, you drop. If I stood up, I might be dead."
An unidentified witness who watched the shooting unfold described a chaotic scene in which one man was shot in the neck while walking down the street with children. The children looked on as blood began shooting from the man's neck while other victims fell to the ground between parked cars.
The witness expressed outrage that such a violent display could happen in the neighborhood three days before Thanksgiving, as well as disdain over what she deemed to be police's inability to make a dent in street violence.
"Reducing violent crime is the number one priority of the police department, so we have assigned five of our six crime response teams to this end of town because we know that 60 percent of the violent crime happens on this side of High Street," Whent said Monday evening. "Basically we're putting the cops where we know most violent crime is occurring, and absent this obviously highly tragic incident, shootings are significantly down this year, murders are significantly down this year. So there are signs of progress, but obviously stuff like this shows we still have work to do."
However, Councilman Larry Reid, who represents East Oakland, said shootings were up during the past six months in the vicinity of Monday's gunbattle.
"OPD has shifted additional resources into my district, and it seems like violent crime continues to happen," he said. "That shows you the mentality these young people have. They have no value for life."