Special Report

OAKLAND -- Abram Pringle prayed before every meal. He addressed people as "sir" and "ma'am." He was president of his church's youth ministry and a member of its praise team.

He was his father's best friend, his infant daughter's doting breadwinner and absolutely the last young man his pastor, Bishop Joseph Simmons, ever thought he'd lay to rest.

"When someone pulled that gun on him, I can imagine Abram trying to reason with him and tell him that it wasn't worth it," Simmons said.

Yet, under circumstances his wife and parents still don't fully understand, Pringle was shot multiple times in a carjacking in the wee hours of Oct. 15 at Olive Street and 81st Avenue. The 22-year-old was Oakland's 92nd homicide victim last year.

Pringle's family, still grieving his loss, is angry that police have made only one arrest in connection with his killing. And they're furious that the person who was arrested, Charles Byrd, a 23-year-old acquaintance of Pringle's, has pleaded no contest to an involuntary manslaughter charge and is expected to be sentenced next month to just six years for being an accomplice to the crime.

Oakland tallied 110 homicides last year. Only 35 are considered solved or cleared, including six officer-involved shootings that involved five Oakland police and one Oakland Public Schools police officer.

But even if police do apprehend the gunmen, it wouldn't lessen the suffering of those who loved Pringle.


Advertisement

"For a mother to lose her child from a violent death, it's another kind of cry," Angeleter Pringle said. "It's a cry that comes from so deep within, it's like someone's gutted you like a fish."

Pringle, a social worker, has cried those tears for more than two decades. Her older son, Derrick Turner, was just 20 when he was robbed and shot to death in Los Angeles while visiting friends in 1991.

Before Abram's funeral last year, she had the mortuary unwrap his body, revealing two big holes in his chest. "To have two sons killed at ages 22 and 20 and to be shot at the same places on their body, it's enough to kill you," she said.

Details unclear

Abram Pringle worked as a mentor at Oakland's Esperanza Elementary School, while studying forensic science and modeling. He returned to his parents' home on the evening of his death, excited for a model search photo shoot the next day, said his father, Abraham Pringle. Abram Pringle then borrowed his parents' SUV and headed out for the night with a friend.

What happened later is hard to piece together. According to court papers, Byrd confessed to driving the carjackers to the scene of the crime, where "the armed suspects shot the victim and took his car."

Pringle's mother said relatives had talked to Byrd in prison after the killing, and that Byrd had set up the carjacking. She said Byrd, who shared a mutual friend with Pringle, had asked him to follow him in his car to Byrd's father's house so Byrd could return his father's van and get a ride home with Pringle. Instead, the gunmen jumped out of Byrd's van and attacked Pringle, his mother said.

"The plea deal he made is ridiculous," she said. "He's the one Abram knew. He's the one that lured Abram to his death."

Alameda County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick released a statement that evidence did not show that Byrd was present during Pringle's slaying. "We continue to work closely with the Oakland Police Department to identify and prosecute Abram's actual killer," she wrote.

Still mourning

Pringle was clinging to life as he was rushed to Highland Hospital, which placed calls to his parents and his wife, Tamisha Pringle, who lives in Hayward.

They weren't allowed to see him, even after he had died.

Tamisha returned home from the hospital later that morning to face her two elementary school-aged sons from a prior relationship. "They asked if something was wrong with Abe," she said. "Then I just started crying. I couldn't even put them in school for a week, because they had so much sadness and so much anger."

A few days after Pringle's death, the couple's then-7-month-old daughter, Tai'Jah, began rubbing photos of him. "She was his world," Tamisha said. "Every time she would cry, he would run and pick her up, even if it was just a little sound in her sleep."

More than six months after her husband's death, Tamisha still hasn't touched his closet and still retreats to her car so she can cry out of view of her children. "I can't let them see me in a state where they might think that I don't have it together," she said.

Pringle's parents, who had no other children together, still have Abram's track medals and awards displayed at their house -- a reminder of his life and their loss. "We have to live here every day," Abraham Pringle said. "We have to look at his picture; we have to look in his room."

The medals and awards will go to their granddaughter, so she knows the kind of man she had in a father. Along with that may come some advice that Angeleter Pringle gives to the children she works with.

"I try to tell them, if you have one friend, you're blessed, and that you shouldn't call everybody a friend and you shouldn't trust everybody," she said. "But Abram thought he could trust everybody. He thought everybody was all right."

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.