22-year-old killed, 6 others wounded in shooting on Juneteenth along Lake Merritt in Oakland
OAKLAND, Calif. - A shooting during a Juneteenth celebration Saturday along Oakland's Lake Merritt left six people with gunshot wounds and a 22-year-old San Francisco man dead, Oakland police said.
He became the 59th homicide victim in Oakland this year.
A motive for the shooting has not yet been revealed.
Police say approximately 5,000 people had gathered at the lake when the gunfire started around 6:22 p.m. on the 2200 block of Lakeshore Avenue. Before then, the scene had been joyous and peaceful, with community members dancing in the streets and selling wares along the lake.
This is the first official federally recognized Juneteenth holiday in the United States to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States.
Six of the victims, including a vendor, were taken to a local hospital for treatment. All are expected to survive.
The six victims are described as four men ranging from age 16 to 27 and two women, of them is 21.
Immediately after the shooting, Oakland police officers observed two men running from the scene with guns. Both men were detained and two guns were recovered.
Because of the oversized crowd, nearby sideshow enforcement officers were reassigned to the scene just prior to the shooting, giving police the beefed-up presence needed to catch and arrest two armed suspects fleeing the scene.
"Investigators are still looking to see if those individuals are connected to the shooting," Oakland police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said over the weekend. "And it may end that the investigation reveals that they were not."
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In total, police say there were about 10,000 people around Lake Merritt Saturday and many were celebrating Juneteenth.
"Our investigators believe this is not directly connected to Juneteenth," said Watson.
Eyewitness accounts posted to social media Saturday evening indicated a group of people was arguing in the moments leading up to the gunfire. Police have not confirmed these accounts.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf released a statement over the weekend calling this a senseless act of gun violence – and offered her thoughts to the victims' family and friends.
Councilwoman Carroll Fife also held a vigil at the lake on Sunday night to decry the loss of life.
In addition to the deaths, councilman Loren Taylor added that he said he thinks the city needs to do better in terms of cleaning up the trash from such a large event. He said that Public Works crews should have been out overnight because, "Yeah, I'm disappointed with how things look."
Many vendors had to leave their wares behind because of the shooting.
On Sunday, several returned to the scene to find their cash boxes stolen and garbage strewn across the lake.
Beekeeper Tommie Wheeler said she realized the lake looked like a mess, but it wasn't her intention on leaving that way.
"We were enjoying everything," she said, "and the shooting occurred right in front of us."
She said she had to just grab what she could and leave.
Wheeler said she's beyond disappointed. Not so much that her belongings are gone, but because of yet another homicide.
"Why would you do it with a crowd of people?" she asked aloud. "There are kids out here. This is a festival, its' Juneteenth. Why would you do it in a crowd?"
Crime Stoppers of Oakland and the Oakland Police Department are offering up to $40,000 for information leading to the arrests in this case.