Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong gave a special press briefing Monday to lament the “12 hours of non-stop chaos” that he says officers were dealing with on Sunday night.
Illegal fireworks lit up the skies of the East Bay as they do every year all around the Bay, but Armstrong said that Oakland officers did zero fireworks enforcement on July 4th because there was too much else going on — and fireworks have been blamed for one warehouse fire on 77th Avenue, and a 3 a.m. structure fire at Telegraph and 42nd Avenue that grew to two alarms.
“Although we came out prepared to address the fireworks,” said Armstrong, per ABC 7. “Along with sideshow activity, the violence overtook all of our resources.”
“Our City has not seen this level of violence in many years,” Armstrong said.
While at least one fatal shooting outside a liquor store at 77th and Bancroft appears to have been the result of a fight, multiple other shooting incidents around Oakland appear to have been the result of “celebratory” gunfire, Armstrong said. These included a 29-year-old man who was shot multiple times by stray bullets as he was walking on the 2200 block of 23rd Avenue, as well as a 16-year-old boy who was shot and injured. Both are expected to survive.
Another man was in critical condition after being hit by a stray bullet while standing at a food truck at 42nd Avenue and International Boulevard.
ABC 7 also reported that a second death that’s been deemed suspicious was the result of blunt-force trauma.
Oakland Councilmember Loren Taylor tells ABC 7 that Sunday was a night when there were nearly 100 outstanding 911 calls in East Oakland, showing how the police department and emergency workers are stretched thin.
“Clearly, we need to bring more resources for nights and weekends, where intensity increases like we saw this past weekend,” Taylor said.
Armstrong also said that the city’s ambulance system was overwhelmed, and response times to violent incidents were consequently slow.
Oakland police made three arrests in connection with the sideshow, as the Chronicle reports. They also confiscated six vehicles.
Monday’s press conference followed exactly a week after Armstrong gave another press conference in order to slam the Oakland City Council for a decision to divert $18 million away from the police department to give to the Department of Violence Prevention. As the Chronicle notes, Armstrong used the Fourth as an example of what can happen when his department is stretched thin.
Also, he called on the community to help prevent violence as well, saying, “We have to get people to put down guns. We are losing people at an alarming rate, and we have to recognize how much trauma and hurt and pain it causes in our community.”