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Berkeley School Employee Killed in Oakland Drive-By Shooting

By Rachel Purdy (BCN)
Tuesday April 19, 2011 - 11:27:00 PM

The shots that killed Beatrice Burton in West Oakland Monday night also wounded the Berkeley Unified School District, where Burton worked for the past three years. 

With 9,000 students and 1,500 employees, the school district is very close-knit and very much a family, said Mark Coplan, a spokesman for the school district. 

Burton, the 33-year-old Richmond woman who was fatally shot on Union Street near Poplar Park at about 9:45 p.m. Monday, was a member of that family for the past three years. 

It is an extended family that included several of Burton's own kin. 

"Hers is somewhat of a typical story, with Beatrice working in nutrition services, her son's father working in central kitchen services, and her aunt and niece working in the school district," Coplan said.  

For some members of the district, coping with the loss of Burton will be more challenging than simply losing an employee or a coworker, he said. Mental health counselors from the city of Berkeley were aiding staff members today at the district's central kitchen, where Burton started in 2008, and at Oxford Elementary School, where she worked for the past year, Coplan said.  

There are students and employees who are grieving the loss of an adult and a coworker, and then there are those who are dealing with a much greater loss, he said. 

Counselors are focusing on "how to best support our coworker who's dealing with a more immediate hit than us," Coplan said.  

Coplan said he has received little response from those close to Burton except for shock. 

"It's contrary to what anyone would expect to happen to Beatrice," he said.  

Burton was shot multiple times in the 3000 block of Union Street, Oakland police said. 

Her boyfriend took her to the hospital before Oakland police responded to the scene after they received reports of the gunfire.  

Police were contacted by Alta Bates Summit Medical Center and told that a woman with multiple gunshot wounds had been brought to the hospital. 

Burton died from her injuries at about 10:30 p.m., police said. 

On Wednesday, teachers at Oxford Elementary School will tell students about Burton's death but not the circumstances surrounding her murder, Coplan said. 

Counselors will be on hand Wednesday and possibly Thursday to answer questions and provide support, he said.  

Many coworkers close to Burton have not been able to communicate, Coplan said. 

"It's a tight group, which is why it's affected them so much," he said.  

Oakland police have not released any suspect information or made any arrests.  

Investigators with the Oakland Police Department's homicide unit have assumed control of the case. 

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact the homicide investigations unit at (510) 238-3821.