The violent shooting death of the girls on Sunday has left family members and friends hurting and looking for answers. "My daughter was my life," Bambi Sartain told ABC7 News. She is the mother of 16-year-old Bobbie Sartain. Bobbie and her best friend, 15-year-old Raquel Gerstel, were gunned down in a quiet part of East Oakland just off of High Street early Sunday morning.
"When I went to the coroner's office, I couldn't believe it was my daughter, the picture I saw of her. And they shot her quite a few times," Bambi said.
Witnesses say the 2600 block of Minna Avenue was where the girls were standing when a car came up the street and opened fire. Bobbie's mother says her daughter could be boisterous at times, but that she was a good girl. "I tried. I tried talking to her. I tried everything, nothing worked," she said.
Jed Hamilton went to the aid of the girls after they were shot. He says Bobbie was hit first, bullets piercing her face and back. She was lying in the street unresponsive. Raquel, he says, was on the other side of the street. She too was shot multiple times, but she was still breathing. "So I stepped in and was holding her hand until the police showed up," he recalled.
Now, two memorials sit in the spot where the two girls were hit by gunfire. Friends and strangers are asking the same question, "When will the violence end?" "It's sad that someone would do something so careless. She's young. Someone took her life before it started," said Kristin Greer, a friend of the Gerstel family.
Bullet holes riddle a car parked at the scene, but police aren't giving many details, only saying that this is an active investigation and that multiple shots were fired. The woman looking for answers the most is a mother left grieving the loss of her daughter. "I just hope she knows how much I love her and if there was anything I could do, I would do it to get my daughter back," Bambi said.
Bobbie's mother says Oakland police are using her daughter's cellphone as part of their investigation. Witnesses say they saw a white car, possibly a Nissan Altima, leaving the scene. Police are asking that anyone with information contact the Oakland Police Department.
Oakland police meet with neighbors after teen murders
The murders of two teenage girls this week in Oakland is underscoring the growing fear in Oakland that criminals are getting bolder by the day. Wednesday night police offered advice to residents living in the danger zone.
"My daughter wasn't where she was supposed to be. I begged and pleaded with her to stay off the streets of Oakland. She was supposed to be at a friend's house. It's bad out there in Oakland right now," said Barton Gerstel, Raquel's father. "I don't know, for all the parents out there, just worship every moment you can with your children because you never know when they're gone."
Just two-and-a-half miles away from the murder scene at an elementary school, residents gathered for a briefing by police about how to protect themselves.
"We've had a spike in crime, more armed robberies, more brazen broad daylight attacks and so people are more concerned. People have been held up in front of their homes, on their doorsteps, in broad daylight at the bus stop," said Lisa Awrey a Crime Watch organizer.
There was even a session for non-English speakers.
"There is a perception that Asian folks are carrying a lot of cash, is what we've heard and what the police are telling us and Asians have seemed to be targets," said Awrey.
How not to be a target of crime or a robbery? The advice is to not carry a purse, keep cell phones out of sight, and most of all, don't be distracted.