Tenants offered way out of troubled building

October 1, 2009 10:16:57 PM PDT
The repairs are finished at an East Oakland apartment complex which was the scene of a long police standoff last week. It is the same building where two Oakland police officers were gunned down this spring.

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Only one resident has returned so far. Thursday, the bank that now owns the property made an offer -- it will pay for hotel rooms for any tenant too scared to come home.

The crime scene clean-up crews were back Thursday, trying to remove the lingering stench of tear gas.

As if the history of the building is not bad enough, the property is now in foreclosure. The bank that owns it says the cleanup is complete and that residents can return. But many do not want to.

The 74th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard apartment building is the same place where Oakland SWAT team members Sergeant Ervin Romans and Sergeant Daniel Sakai were killed in a shootout with Lovell Mixon March 21, 2009. The shootout came after Mixon had killed Oakland Police Officer John Hege and Sergeant Mark Dunakin during a traffic stop earlier that day.

Just last week, police put the building on a 12-hour lockdown during a standoff with a shooting suspect who they say hid inside the apartment. Police ransacked units searching for the gunman. Residents were forced to move out.

"It's too many incidents," displaced tenant Bernard Hampton said. "That's the second shooting over there and there aint no telling what else might happen over there."

Tamalpais Bank says it will pay for a three week hotel stay so tenants can find other living arrangements. A bank spokesperson said, "Whether we get a reimbursement from the city or not...just morally speaking this is the right thing to do to get people back on their feet."

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It turns out the city may not have to pick up the final tab for damages caused by the police raid or the inconvenience it caused tenants, who have been living in a hotel ever since.

A police department spokesman told ABC7, "In many instances...the city or county cannot be held liable for damage based on qualified immunity (public safety personnel lawfully performing their duties)."

Tenants like Tamesisha Marbray and her new born daughter feel stuck in the middle.

"It's a dark cloud over the building," Marbray said. "Two times is enough, the third time, bullets fly anywhere, go through wall, you know we're all in there, unsafe basically."

Tenants say they are unsafe in part because the man at the center of the standoff, accused of shooting another man around the corner, has been released from custody because the victim is refusing to cooperate with investigators.

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