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Two shooters, getaway driver carried out Oakland school rampage, police say

East Bay Times logo East Bay Times 9/30/2022 Jakob Rodgers and Rick Hurd, East Bay Times

Sep. 29—OAKLAND — At least three people are believed responsible for a brazen, gang-related shooting at an East Oakland school Wednesday afternoon that left two students at least 18 years old and four campus employees wounded in a hail of gunfire, Oakland police said Thursday.

Fuller details began to emerge Thursday of the targeted attack from a day earlier, which turned the front doors of the King Estates education campus in Oakland's Eastmont Hills neighborhood into a bloody, bullet-riddled crime scene. The information came as investigators scrambled to learn the identities of at least two shooters and their getaway driver, while the East Oakland community reeled in sadness and confusion at the latest instance of gun-related violence.

"There's a sense that this clearly could have been much worse," said Father Jayson Landeza, a chaplain for Oakland's police and fire departments who also has worked with the anti-violence program Ceasefire. "And that's the struggle with all of this. We just assumed, naively, that churches and schools were places where these things don't happen. That continues to shock us."

The first shots rang out around 12:45 pm Wednesday at the King Estates education campus on the 8200 block of Fontaine Street in East Oakland. At least two shooters approached the entrance to Rudsdale High School — located within a cluster of schools on the campus — and walked through front doors that apparently were unlocked, according to Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong.

"It seems like they breached the front of the school and then immediately begin to fire," said Armstrong, who based his account on video of the incident. That video was not released publicly Thursday.

The shooting appears to have been a targeted hit that was the result of a "group and gang conflict," Armstrong said. He added that the people shot did not appear to have been the intended targets, "though we are still looking into all of the evidence at this time."

Using handguns — possibly equipped with high-capacity magazines — the shooters fired at least 30 rounds in the education complex. After filling the halls of Rudsdale High School with a flurry of gunfire, the shooters fled in a vehicle driven by a third suspect.

Wednesday's mass shooting was one of the Bay Area's worst instances of school gun violence in recent memory. Among the victims were two students — both at least 18 years old — as well as a school counselor, a security guard and two members of a grounds crew at the campus, police and school officials said.

Two shooting victims remained hospitalized Thursday in critical condition. The exact condition of a third person was unclear, though they had been stabilized by clinicians. Three other victims have been released from the hospital.

Possible warning signs of violence at the Rudsdale school emerged in recent weeks. About six weeks ago, police responded to a "stabbing in a firearm-involved incident" and made an arrest, Armstrong said Thursday.

All Oakland Unified schools rely on unarmed school safety officers, known as "culture keepers," to immediately respond to instances of violence after Oakland eliminated its school police force in 2021.

On Thursday morning, repair crews worked to replace glass shattered in the shooting while the campus stood silent and empty of students as classes were cancelled. A school district spokesman said the shuttered campuses will remain closed for the "time being." In a statement Thursday night, the district said classes at Rudsdale and Sojourner Truth schools would be canceled Friday and next Monday, with staff sharing plans for Tuesday and beyond "as soon as possible."

It all stood in stark contrast to the chaos that erupted a day earlier.

Ryan Hughes, director of facilities for the BayTech Charter School, also located at the complex, recalled standing in the cafeteria Wednesday afternoon when he heard several shots toward the entrance of the building. He rushed to the main entrance, which all of the schools on campus share, to lock the doors.

In the foyer, Hughes said, he encountered a bloody scene with at least four shooting victims. He recalled seeing one high school student bleeding on the ground after having been shot multiple times in the back. A building and grounds staff member also had been shot in the stomach, while another suffered a graze wound to the head, he said. And a security guard of the charter school was shot in the leg, near his knee.

On Thursday, Hughes struggled to make sense of the violence — especially knowing that it came almost exactly a month after another school shooting about three miles down the hill in East Oakland that left a 13-year-old student of Madison Park Academy hospitalized. It all comes as the city reels from a wave of gun deaths that started during the pandemic and has left hundreds of families mourning lost loved ones or dealing with the aftermath of sometimes life-altering gunshot injuries.

"I'm lost for words," Hughes said.

At Madison Park Academy, the latest school shooting left students rattled Thursday morning. Many questioned when the violence would end and what could be done to improve school safety.

"At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if there was another shooting at another school in a month," said Victor Acevez III, 17, a senior at the academy. "It's sad that the fate of the United States is what school is going to get shot today. And who is going to die today."

(c)2022 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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