Police seek motive after I-580 gun battle

July 18, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A bomb squad was called out to Interstate 580 in Oakland following a Sunday morning shootout between a suspect and CHP officers.

It all started with a traffic stop just after midnight. When the CHP tried to pull over the driver he opened fire. Officers fired back exchanging dozens of rounds.

The investigation that followed temporarily shut down parts of Interstate 580 for most of the day.

Authorities remained at the scene all day Sunday, trying to determine what the motive for shooting was. From what authorities have been able to determine so far, the shooter was bent on causing serious harm.

About 15 hours after the shootout, the Alameda County bomb squad detonated what they thought was an explosive device. It turned out to be items taped together, but authorities say other things found inside the truck prove the driver was intent on harming someone or something.

There were multiple high-powered weapons, ammunition and a homemade notebook on California.

"Clearly, this particular person was en route somewhere to inflict a great bodily harm," CHP officer Sam Morgan told ABC7.

Things began with a routine traffic stop. Two CHP officers pulled over a white Toyota pick-up because it was swerving in and out of lanes. As soon as one officer approached the car, the driver fired.

"He's sees the driver reaching for something in the car and then the next thing he sees and hears is he's being fired upon," Morgan said.

The officers fired back in a shootout that the CHP says may have lasted nearly 10 minutes and involved at least 60 rounds. The driver was hit and taken to a hospital where he was listed in stable condition. The two officers suffered minor injuries from being hit by flying glass.

As the bomb squad and crime scene investigators combed the scene hours later, the handgun, rifle and shotgun still sat inside the bullet-riddled truck.

"The driver was wearing body armor and was struck multiple times. That perhaps is why the driver survived the encounter," Morgan said.

The driver has a long criminal history out of Washington State. He was driving a truck registered to his mother, who lives in Groveland California. Criminal records show 45-year-old Byron C. Williams was a parolee driving on a suspended license. His arrest history includes assault, property destruction, a DUI, hit and run and theft.

"Right now, I don't have any information or evidence that leads us to believe that domestic terrorism is an issue here, at this point," said Sgt. Trent Cross. "But, it's still early in our investigation."

Williams is a two-striker. The FBI is assisting in the investigation and trying to determine what exactly is inside the "California notebook" recovered from inside Williams' truck.

Williams' mother told ABC7 Sunday that she had no idea how her son could have gotten caught up in something like this. She said he was very close to completing his probation. She also said he occasionally gets angry watching television news and that when she looked outside she noticed that her white truck was no longer parked at her home and that the guns were missing from the family safe.

Williams is in serious condition but stable condition at a local hospital.


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