Girl, 15, becomes Oakland’s 97th

Tuesday November 12, 2002


OAKLAND — One or more gunmen opened fire on a group of teenagers standing on a sidewalk in Oakland's Elmhurst neighborhood Monday, killing a 15-year-old girl and injuring two boys, police said. 

The shooting, which occurred in front of a white, single-story home at 1214 89th Ave. near B Street, was reported at 11:13 a.m. 

Police spokesman George Phillips said the victims on the sidewalk were struck by bullets that tore through an Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser station wagon parked along the curb. Several of the car's windows were shattered by gunfire. 

“They were outside of the car, standing on the sidewalk. An individual drove up in a car and opened fire,” Phillips said. The suspect or suspects then drove away from the scene. 

Police did not identify the victims, but Roneisha Tillman said her cousin Tamellia Cobbs, 15, was the girl who was shot dead. Tillman, who lives at 1214 89th Ave., in the house in front of which the shooting occurred, said her cousin was a 10th-grader at Castlemont High School. 

The other two victims, identified only as boys in their late teens, were receiving treatment at Highland Hospital this afternoon. Phillips said one was listed in serious condition and the other was stable. 

The slaying was the city's 97th of the year, police said. Phillips said police have no motive in the killing and no suspects. 

Tillman, 18, said that her cousin Tamellia, whom they called “Mellia,” had run into the 89th Avenue house last night after someone opened fire on her. 

“There was some mess last night and she ran from bullets last night and today she didn't get a chance to run because the man shot and killed her for no reason,” Tillman said. “Why? We don't know.” 

Tillman said she has been laughing and joking with her cousin and the other boys moments before the shots rang out Monday. She had just gone inside the house when she heard the sound of rapid gunfire. 

She ran outside and found Tamellia sprawled on the ground, with her eyes rolled back in her head. Tillman insisted that her cousin and the two boys had done nothing to place themselves in jeopardy. 

“They're not gangbangers, they're not hoodlums, they ain't selling no drugs, they ain't out here doing none of that,” Tillman said. “We're out here like normal kids having fun.” 

She said the family is convinced that the killer is a man known as “One-eyed Eric,” who had known Tamellia much of her life. 

Phillips said police have no suspect information. 

Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid, who responded to the shooting scene, said the gunfire today had snuffed out yet another young person's dreams. 

“This is a 15-year-old -- you don't expect 15-year-old kids to die the way this young lady died,” Reid said. “You expect kids to live longer than their parents. 

“There's got to be some way to deal with this whole madness that is taking place here in Oakland,” he added. 

He said there is a “terrible mindset” in evidence that pushes young people to shoot one another. He added that he doesn't believe the struggling economy is to blame for the spate of slayings in Oakland this year. 

“I don't think the economy has anything to do with this insanity that's going on out here in the streets,” Reid said. “I just think there's just a total lack of value of human being life.” 

Phillips said the block where the shooting occurred has been a “hotspot” targeted in the past by a crime response team, composed of one sergeant and seven officers. 

“(It's) an area where we have experienced violence and an area where we have experienced sales of narcotics,” he said, without elaborating. Phillips cautioned that it's still much too early to tell what may have sparked today's shooting. 

Simote Tupouata, 40, who lives several doors from the shooting scene, said his children were home from school today and heard multiple shots ring out. 

He has lived in the neighborhood since 1994 and said he has made frequent reports to police about illicit drug activity on the block. He said his five children are only allowed to play in front of the house when he is present.