FBI joins investigation of I-580 shootout

July 19, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Police describe a heavily-armed man at the center of Sunday's shootout on Interstate 580 as being on a mission to kill. The gun battle shut the freeway down for hours and investigators believe the man was determined to hurt or kill a lot of people.

Authorities aren't saying much about what the shooter's motives were. They're still trying to piece together clues to find out where exactly he was headed and who he was targeting, but they described Byron Williams as full of rage, anger and hatred and said he is someone who was intent on making a name for himself.

Home video posted on YouTube shows just how long the gun battle went on. Authorities say it lasted for 15 minutes.

The CHP says Williams was armed with an arsenal of high-powered weapons. He fired instantly at officers when they pulled him over on I-580 early Sunday morning and the officers fired right back. Both sides shot 150 rounds in all.

"Based on the type of weapons that were in his possession, the amount of ammunition he had inside that vehicle, he could have easily wiped out 50 people, easily," Cross.

In addition to a shotgun, handgun and a rifle, police say Williams also wore a bulletproof vest.

Where he was headed or who he wanted to hurt, police aren't saying. But a major clue may be a homemade binder removed by the bomb squad robot from his truck. It had the word California scribbled on its cover.

The FBI took it from the crime scene and is analyzing it for clues. Oakland police are also investigating.

"It's still early on, this happened just a couple days ago and we need to really do some follow-up work and talk to some people, especially in his hometown area," says Oakland Police Department spokesman Officer Jeff Thomason.

Williams is a two-striker on parole with a violent criminal history. His mother told reporters he is angry with the liberal government.

The CHP believes the two rookie officers who stopped Williams for a routine traffic stop prevented something much more serious from taking place.

"He was an individual with a lot of anger, a lot of hatred, and he had a mission he wanted to carry out and the California Highway Patrol intervened and we stopped him from carrying out his mission of destruction which was probably going to be to kill a lot of people," says Cross.

Williams remains hospitalized in stable condition. Because of his body armor, most of Williams' injuries were to his legs and arms.

Williams could face attempted murder charges for the shooting and if convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison because it would be his third strike.

2002 Arrest

Williams' background includes an arrest in May 2002. He robbed two banks, in Visalia and Chowchilla, and took nearly $4,000.

After his second bank robbery, Williams drove away from CHP officers until his vehicle ran out of gas. He was eventually he was caught after a foot chase ensued.

He was sentenced in 2003 and was to serve more than six years in federal prison, but was released in May 2008.


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