OAKLAND -- A bloody six-hour stretch of shootings Friday left four dead in what police say is the deadly result of ongoing battles between "several identified groups." The surge in violence led an elected official Saturday to call on the city to declare a state of emergency.
"These groups are involved in ongoing feuds with one another and continue to engage in retaliatory violence that we will absolutely not tolerate," according to a statement released Saturday by Oakland Police Department spokeswoman Johnna Watson.
"We are committing all available additional resources to the ongoing investigations and making every effort to find and arrest suspects, while keeping neighborhood residents safe."
There were 131 homicides in Oakland in 2012, the most since 2006 when there were 148. So far this year, there have been six.
"It's time for us to declare a state of emergency," said Vice Mayor Larry Reid, noting that such a declaration would free up mutual aid funds from the state. "We've lost control."
Two of Reid's council colleagues stopped short of calling for an emergency declaration but said action must be taken. "Some people would say crime is out of control right now," said District 1 Councilman Dan Kalb. "I don't have that sense, I don't
District 4 Councilwoman Libby Schaaf called the six slayings that have occurred in the past week"a tragedy of epic proportions."
"If anyone had doubts that increasing public safety in Oakland was our highest priority, I hope this week's events has erased those doubts," Schaaf said.
Police early Saturday identified the youngest victim in Friday's violence as Ken Harbin, 17, of Oakland.
Harbin was shot about 8:15 p.m. Friday in the 9400 block of Hillside Street in East Oakland, a few blocks from where he lived. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police were not sure what he was doing on Hillside Street before he was killed but said he might have known people in the area.
Harbin's death was the last in the series of Friday's bloody events.
The killings began at 2:30 p.m., when an unnamed 22-year-old Oakland man was shot multiple times in the 2300 block of East 17th Street in East Oakland.
The victim at first was awake and talking to authorities on the scene but died later at Highland Hospital where he was taken for treatment. Authorities were trying to contact his next of kin Saturday before releasing his identity.
About a half-hour later, 30-year-old Larry Lovette of Stockton, who used to live in Oakland, was found shot to death on Canon Avenue at Wellington Street next to Dimond Park near the Glenview district and in the council area Schaaf represents.
Police believe he was killed elsewhere in Oakland and dropped at the site.
At 4:15 p.m. Eddiebo Rodriguez, 20, of Oakland, was shot while driving in the 3400 block of West Street in West Oakland. Rodriguez' car rolled to a stop in the driveway of a home on the street. People who knew him drove him in another vehicle to a hospital. He died at 5:26 p.m.
Friday's mayhem led to a Saturday morning conference call between Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan, along with several staff members, according to Quan spokesman Sean Maher. Jordan delivered an urgent briefing to Quan and her executive staff, Maher said, walking them through the sequence of events Friday and the status of the fast-developing investigations.
"This kind of violence is completely unacceptable," Maher said. "(The Mayor's Office) knows the greater Oakland community is looking for fast action and we are putting every resource we can into making that happen."
Meanwhile, in the East Oakland neighborhood where Harbin was killed, residents milled around the bloodstained corner of 94th Avenue and Hillside Street, where a hail of bullets cut down the high school senior.
A few blocks away, Harbin's mother, sisters and several family and friends mourned at the house where the teen lived, listening to solemn soul music as a steady procession of visitors came and went.
Harbin's mother, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, said her son looked forward to graduating early from Sojourner Truth School, an independent study program for Oakland teens. She said he dreamed of moving to Atlanta after high school.
"He was my only boy," she said, standing on her porch in pajama pants and a hooded sweatshirt, her cheeks moist from tears. She said her son was not involved in gangs.
"He was just walking down there to meet up with his cousin; he said they were going to hang out some girls last night," she said.
Neighbors said the area is plagued by gangs and gun violence. Most of the small ranch-style homes are behind tall front yard gates.
"Shooting happens out here all the time," said Armando Ramirez, 37, who was walking past the scene with his two small children Saturday morning. "It's a part of life here."
Friday's spate of violence, on the heels of a particularly violent 2012, could intensify calls for new spending on public safety, especially bolstering the depleted Police Department.
Schaaf said the department is at 612 officers, down from more than 800 in 2009 and far short of the 925 she said was recommended by the city's strategic plan.
Three proposals amounting to millions in new spending, including a new police academy, contracts for supplemental policing by the county sheriff and enlarging the ranks of civilian Police Department employees could all come before the council this month, Schaaf said.
"Basic public safety resources are not in place," Schaaf said. "I know we can responsibly afford new investments in public safety."
The killings brought to six the number of homicides this year in Oakland, all in the past week. Last year at this time there were two homicides in the city.
Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering up to $10,000 in reward money in each case for information leading to the arrest of the killers. Anyone with information may call police at 510-238-3821 or a tip line at 510-773-2805 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572. Tips can be sent anonymously via text message. Text to 888-777 and include the words TipOaklandPD.