Man shot while feeding the homeless with family

July 27, 2011 8:28:44 PM PDT
The only way police can describe it is a "senseless act." A man is clinging to life after being shot in the head while feeding the homeless in East Oakland early Wednesday morning.

It's not looking good. Police call these life threatening injuries. The man is on life support at a hospital in Oakland and homicide investigators are on this case. In addition to the man's wife being shot, a police source tells ABC7 one of the man's young daughters was also struck by a bullet. She and her mom are both expected to survive.

He is known simply as Brother John and just about everyone in the area knows him. At least once a week, Brother John, his wife and their two young daughters pass out home-cooked meals to East Oakland's homeless.

"He stops right in the middle of the road and gives you some food," Tony said.

"He came out here and fed us last night -- fried fish and French fries," Roxanne said.

That fish meal served in the shadow of the BART tracks and out of the back of Brother John's van on 47th Avenue may be his last and a man named Bill could be the last man he ever helped.

"He passed Brother John's van, he stopped and he backed up, then all of a sudden three shots, I ducked, then two more shots," Bill said.

The shooter fired into the van with 29-year-old Brother John and his family sitting inside.

Police do not have a motive for a shooting they can only describe as senseless.

"They were just trying to do a good deed and feed people that were less fortunate than they were," Oakland Police Offc. John Scott said.

And while everyone on these streets knows Brother John's name, few seem to know more about him than that.

Except Bill, who has called these streets home for more than 20 years. Once Brother John looked for help from the one person he was there to serve.

"One time he was going to stop because he said, 'You know, Bill, I don't think people appreciate what I do for them,' I said, 'Brother John, as long as one person appreciates what you do for them, that's good,'" Bill asid.

Wednesday, there was nothing but appreciation for Brother John and the kindness he showed for those who don't often get it -- appreciation and anger.

"That man don't have an enemy; it was a senseless killing," Bill said.

Police are not releasing Brother John's identity for his safety. The witness, Bill, says the shooter was alone in an older model turquoise Astro van. There is a $25,000 reward for an arrest in the case.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the Police Department's homicide section at (510) 238-3744 or email oaklandhomicide@oaklandnet.com.


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