Early Monday evening a running gun battle left one man critically injured and police searching for a lime green car that struck several cars during an exchange of gunfire with a pedestrian.
The dramatic shootout happened on Whitney Street, between 59th and 60th streets, and apparently concluded just doors away from the 59th Street home where a North Oakland man shot down a burglar last week after he broke a front door window to get into the residence.
Shattered bits of headlights and colored plastic littered Whitney Street, and a battered Honda Accord LX stood immobile on the street, bearing traces of the pale green paint left by the car used in the shooting.
The neighborhood has seen a rash of violence in recent months, including two fatal shootings last fall and a fusillade of gunfire discharged into the air in the parking lot of a tavern on Shattuck Avenue just south of the 59th Street intersection two weeks ago, said one neighbor.
In Tuesday night’s shooting, “the car hit several parked cars—including totaling the car of the owner of the house on Whitney that nearly burned down last Christmas,” reported one Whitney Street resident in an e-mail to neighbors.
Another neighbor said that the suspect apparently tried to hide in yards in the neighborhood, finally ending up at the intersection of 59th and McCall streets, where he collapsed on the pavement.
A third neighbor, who declined to speak for attribution, said Tuesday night’s incident was “really terrifying.”
Police blocked off the street for an hour after the incident, and City Councilmember Jane Brunner came by to talk to neighbors, said Bob Brokl, a neighborhood resident. Brunner is facing opposition in her bid for re-election from 59th Street resident Patrick McCullough—who gained fame after he shot a 15-year-old in the arm three years ago.
McCullough was not charged in that incident, in which he told police he had fired at the youth after he had been surrounded by 15 young men in his front yard who were yelling “Kill the snitch” because of his campaign against neighborhood drug dealing.
The council candidate said he had fired after the teenager told a companion, “Give me the pistol.”
Brunner said she went to the neighborhood after a call from a constituent.
“The police don’t tell you much,” she said, “but they thought it was drug related.”
Brunner said the event “was so shocking. Whitney is such a charming, lovely street, and it was frightening for residents. Fortunately, no bystanders were injured.”
Brunner said she has asked Police Chief Wayne Tucker to tell her what the department’s plan is for dealing with the rash of violence in the area.
Off the record, police have told neighbors that some of the troubles may stem from gang rivalries, either between the Dogtown and Acorn gangs or from a renewal of the long-standing rivalry between North Oakland and South Berkeley groups.
Brunner said police have identified and begun tracking about 30 potential troublemakers. “They are giving them an opportunity to change, but they are keeping an eye on them,” she said.
“Now you see what I have to deal with,” said McCullough, who lives in the block of 59th Street between Shattuck and Telegraph avenues.
The candidate said Brunner “has never been in this neighborhood unless she has a police escort. I guess she’s really desperate.”
McCullough said that instead of waiting for the police chief to come up with a program, a councilmember should come up with one of their own. “That’s why you’ve got a staff,” he said.
McCullough said crime is down on his own block, where neighbors are well organized and quick to call police when they see anything suspicious. But one resident was mugged several months ago by a group of young men and subsequently moved out, he said.
One major problem, he said, is that underfunded police can’t provide the kind of community policing community members want and still conduct intensive enforcement in high crime neighborhoods. “That’s when people decide they have to look out after themselves,” he said.
The earlier shooting, which happened April 22, occurred in the block west of Shattuck after a resident heard the sounds of breaking glass and found Nathan Cooper, 31, breaking in through the front door.
Police said the resident told them he fired because he thought Cooper was attacking with a weapon. Cooper managed to stagger to the same parking lot where the shots had been fired a week earlier.
He was taken to the hospital in serious condition, and later charged with burglary.
Oakland Police spokesperson Roland Holmgren said he would have the investigating officer contact a reporter about the latest incident, but no information had been received by deadline Wednesday.