Oakland families concerned over rash of violence

January 6, 2011 6:10:26 PM PST
Oakland police are dealing with a war zone like situation in East Oakland where automatic weapons are sending bullets flying into homes of innocent families. The dangerous area is known to police as "Beat 33X" -- a zone bordered by International and San Leandro Boulevards, and stretching from 81st up to 98th Avenues.

At About 7 a.m. Thursday Oakland police, with their guns drawn, served a search warrant on a house on the 9400 block of E Street.

"We're investigating violence and gun possession, but we don't have anything specifically tied to it," said Oakland police Sgt. Tim Nolan.

"This is crazy. I don't even deserve this. I don't even know why people act like this. And then it is always innocent bystanders, my son could have been a statistic last night," said Latanya Ashley.

It all began about 11 Wednesday night a half a block away when bullets ripped through the walls at Ashley's house. Her fiancée was on the floor, playing with their 2-year-old son Jaden.

"It was a muffled like sound. I saw dust particles fly and I said 'someone is shooting.' So I grabbed him and laid on top of him. If I would have been standing up, I believe it would have been me," said Latanya Ashley's fiancée.

The family's SUV was also hit by bullets; one went through the headrest on the passenger side. Latanya Ashley says police removed some evidence but didn't get it all.

Down the street where the raid took place, police removed two rifles and narcotics. Two people were arrested and police say more arrests are expected.

The day before that and a few blocks away, six people were hit in a gang shootout. A man who was simply watching TV inside his own home was critically injured. Bullets also shot through his neighbor's house, just missing an 11-year-old girl by mere centimeters.

During her inauguration at the start of the week, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said she plans to make changing the neighborhood a priority.

"What we want to do is get people organized and they don't have a neighborhood crime council. I'm committed to make sure that to every beat has a city that's working with the police to make the neighborhood safe," she said during her inauguration.

To the police, it is known as Beat 33X and it has some of the highest rates of crime and unemployment in Oakland. Now the problems outside are bleeding inside the homes of innocent people.

"Unfortunately a lot of times people are caught in the crossfire. It could be the house behind it, the school behind it, police behind it, they don't care. When they see the guy that they want to get, they are going to shoot it," Oakland Police Sgt. Randy Brandwood said.

Four days ago, a boy was shoot four times outside of a store, leaving the owner, who wished to remain anonymous, scared. He says if you complain, you get shot.

"How can I say? You want to provide for your family, but how can you do it in a society like this? In a neighborhood like that?" he said.

The families who live in the area want to see a change before it's too late.

"I hope they do something because somebody is got to do something," neighborhood resident Andre Walker said.

Police say Beat 33X doesn't have the highest crime in all of Oakland, but it is ranked in the top five neighborhoods though. Those numbers don't mean much to mothers like Ashley. She is now looking for another neighborhood to live.