OAKLAND — Hundreds gathered Tuesday night in East Oakland at the site of a traffic stop gone bad Saturday that led to the deaths of four Oakland police officers, to honor the fallen officers and sound a message of hope for a city troubled by violence.
A diverse crowd poured in from around the region with men, women and children carrying lit candles and signs reading "Oakland/Peace."
"This is our community," said Julie Hadnot, 42, an Oakland resident who attended with other members of St. Benedict's Catholic Church. "This is our neighborhood. We are here to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, and to show support for the city of Oakland and its healing."
State and local elected officialsand law-enforcement officers from around the Bay Area joined in offering condolences to the Oakland Police Department, which the past few days has suffered one of the darkest periods in its history.
"We're going to get through this," said Howard Jordan, who had been acting chief three weeks when the shootings occurred. "But we're going to get through this with the support of you, other law-enforcement families and our personal families."
Jordan said he has received more than 3,000 letters, cards and e-mails.
"I've read every e-mail that you've sent me," he said. "I've read every card that you've sent, and we appreciate it. It means a lot to me, and to the men and women of the Oakland Police Department."
Killed Saturday were Sgts. Mark Dunakin, 40, of Tracy; Erv Romans, 43, of Danville; and Daniel Sakai, 35, of Castro Valley. Officer John Hege, 41, of Concord, also was shot Saturday and declared brain-dead Sunday. He was taken off life support late Monday.
Their killer was Lovelle Mixon, 26, of Oakland, who was shot dead by police. He was an at-large parolee whom police linked Monday to the rape of a 12-year-old girl on 74th Avenue in February. Investigators also said he could be responsible for at least one other sexual assault and possibly more in the same area.
The killings have drawn attention to Oakland from across the state and nation.
The Morongo Band of Mission Indians in Riverside County said Tuesday it donated $10,000 to each of the officers' families. The White House spoke with Mayor Ron Dellums on Monday to express the administration's condolences and to indicate that President Barack Obama hoped to speak with the families of the officers. It is not clear whether Obama has been in touch with the families.
The shootings also have played into an oft-repeated narrative of Oakland as a city rocked by runaway violence, where tensions between the police and the community run high and, all too often, boil over.
Councilmember Desley Brooks, who led the organization of the vigil and whose sixth district includes the area where the shootings occurred, said Tuesday's event represented the true "sentiments of this community."
"It was a diverse crowd that came out here," Brooks said. "And there are many people who care about the police, appreciate them and aren't the picture that's been portrayed since Saturday about this community."
She said "there are a lot of people motivated to see change come about" in the wake of the officers' deaths.
"There are some legitimate concerns that the community has about the relationship with the Police Department," she said, "and we need to find a way to bridge that."
Jack Peters, the 65-year-old father of an Oakland police officer, said Tuesday night: "I'm leaving with hope. "... Out of (something) very bad, maybe there's some good. And I am anticipating something good. And I'm just praying we can get through this."
Reach Kelly Rayburn at 510-208-6435.