I-580 gunman targeted ACLU, Tides Foundation

July 20, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Oakland police say I-580 shootout suspect Byron Williams was headed to San Francisco to commit mass murder when he was stopped by the California Highway Patrol. He made his first court appearance Tuesday.

Williams said very little in court as he sat in his red jumpsuit, his arm handcuffed to a wheelchair. Investigators Tuesday said Williams was headed to San Francisco to kill "people of importance" at two organizations he blamed for the problems in his life.

Williams' wrists and feet were still bandaged after being shot multiple times by CHP officers during Sunday's shootout on I-580. The shootout lasted more than 15 minutes and more than 150 rounds were fired.

Court documents released Tuesday say Williams told investigators he intended to start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco to kill people at the ACLU and the Tides Foundation, an organization that says it promotes economic justice.

"His plan was to go there and wait until it opens up in the morning; our investigators brought up to him that those organizations are probably closed on Sundays and he said he was going to wait until they opened up," Oakland Police Department spokesperson Jeff Thomason said.

The ACLU declined to comment formally on the news Tuesday; but one person said in passing, "it comes with the territory." The Tides Foundation said they had never heard of Williams' and did not know why he would target the organization.

The court documents also say Williams, a two-striker, told investigators he refused to be arrested when the CHP pulled him over for swerving. He said he was willing to shoot and kill the officers.

Williams, 45, is charged with four counts of attempted murder of a police officer and felonies for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. This would be his third strike after two prior bank robbery convictions.

"He was on his way to San Francisco last Saturday night for the sole purpose to kill people and we're really lucky that the California Highway Patrol stopped him before he was able to carry out his plan," Thomason said.

More charges, including possible federal charges, could come. The FBI is investigating the contents of a binder pulled from Williams' truck following the shooting. It has the word California written on its cover.

Police say Williams was acting alone.

Williams is also facing enhancement charges for wearing a bullet proof vest during the shooting. Police also described in greater detail the weapons he carried on Sunday. One of them was a high powered rifle that has the ability to penetrate vehicles and body armor police wear. And during that shootout he fired three different guns.

Williams will be back in court Wednesday.

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