Man fatally shot in front of son in Oakland

August 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A father was gunned down in Oakland right in front of his six-year-old son. It's just part of a string of deadly violence in East Oakland. Sunday afternoon's shooting happened on International Boulevard and 103rd Avenue.

Family members say the boy can't stop talking about the shooting. They say he was in the car when his father was shot only a few feet away.

Jose Esparza had just cashed his check and bought a few items at the grocery store when two men approached him. His relatives say, according to witnesses, the two men tried to rob Esparza, but he resisted.

"I guess he tried to fight back and they shot him," said the victim's nephew Luis Romero.

Family members say Esparza's son was in the car and saw the whole thing.

"He was just crying, he kept on repeating to his mom and everybody, 'my dad got shot right there. Look this is what happened, a guy came and pointed at him and pow pow and shot him,'" said the victim's nephew Sergio Romero.

Esparza died at the hospital a short time later. He just turned 39. He now leaves behind a wife and two young sons ages 6 and 10.

"I feel really bad because he was a great person, a hard-working father. Now he left two beautiful children and a wife, and who's going to look after them, you feel me? So I'm devastated," said Sergio Romero.

This is Oakland's 78th homicide of the year. Last year at this time, there were 59 homicides. Family members say they're surprised this happened in the middle of the day, but while they're concerned about the safety of their neighborhood, their bigger concern is for the little boy who witnessed his father's death.

"That's all he's talking about, that's all he's talking about. 'My dad's dead. I've seen them when they shot him. I've seen them when they took everything.' That's all he's talking about," said Luis Romero.

Police say another man was shot around the same time about five blocks away, but officers don't know if the two shootings are related.

Police and CrimeStoppers of Oakland are offering up to $15,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of the suspects. Anyone with information can call Oakland police at 510-238-3821 or CrimeStoppers at 510-777-8572.

Sunday's shooting came along a stretch of International Boulevard through East Oakland that's seen more than its share of violence in the past few weeks.

Three-year-old Carlos Nava died after suspected gang members opened fire on two of their rivals back on August 8. It happened at 64th avenue and International Boulevard. Oakland police have arrested two men in connection with Nava's murder.

A four-year-old boy suffered a gunshot wound to the arm after being shot last Saturday, near 59th Avenue and International Boulevard. The child's family drove him to Highland Hospital, he's expected to recover.

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