Oakland's crime leaves behind victims

May 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
When you hear about violent crime on the streets of cities like Oakland, we sometimes fail to make the connection. This is a story not about the statistics of Oakland's murder rate, but of the effects of those crimes and the sad reality of loosing a loved one. There is a mother who knows this pain far to well in Oakland's flatlands.

"September 17th 2007. Very much the worst day of my life," said Ida Hancock, an Oakland resident.

That was the day Ida lost one of her four children to the streets of West Oakland. Willie Tatmon III was 22 years old and the 99th person killed here last year.

126 people were murdered in Oakland in 2007. Most in the area know it as the "flatlands."

Willie was playing a pick up ballgame at the community center, as he loved to do. There was a dispute over a foul call, words were exchanged, he shook hands and thought everything was OK. Regardless, two of the guys apparently held a grudge. In the end he was shot several times, and when his mom arrived he was lying there bleeding in the sand.

"As I got closer to my son I noticed he was bleeding from the ankle and I thought oh, Heavenly Father, he's going to be OK," recalled Ida. "And I started taking a few steps further, I noticed another hole in the back of his leg and I said, 'Oh yeah, he's still going to be ok.' As I walked closer there was more bullets riddled up his legs. I saw one out of the back of his shoulder and it thought, 'Oh, he's going to be ok. He's going to be all right.' And this was all on his right side of his body and he was laying face down. But as I got closer to my son, I saw the hole in the temple of head."

As Willie lay in the sand of a playground, he spoke his last words to his mother.

He took a very deep breath and said "I love you," said Ida.

Willie died at the hospital the next day. He left behind his three year old son and his family, forever torn apart by another senseless murder.

"It's taken away so much from people and it just needs to stop," said Ida.

Ida just hopes there is an end to the violence that plagues Oakland's streets. In April she went to Sacramento to be part of the 19th Annual Victims' March on the Capitol. The march calls attention to all those people who aren't here to speak for themselves.

"It was reassuring to know that I am not alone," said Ida.

However, she still comes home to a house missing someone in a neighborhood where people are scared to leave their homes.

"It tears my heart up to know that you can't come out your own door to wash your car, check your mailbox, walk to the corner store or just to come outside to stand and talk with your neighbors," said Ida.

When Ida hears the shots, she often knows what they mean. Another family just like hers is saying goodbye to someone they love.

"I always pray for their families, when I hear someone else has been killed. Don't know the reason or whatever, but I just pray for that family," said Ida.

The two men who are believed to have killed Willie Tatmon have been caught. They are in an Alameda County jail. They have yet to enter a plea.

This story was produced by Ken Miguel.


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