Police Slayings Latest Blow To Crime-Torn Oakland

Lovelle Mixon, seen in this undated photo, was killed during a shootout with police. i i

Lovelle Mixon, seen in this undated photo, was killed during a shootout with police that left three officers dead and one gravely wounded Saturday in Oakland, Calif. AP/Oakland Police Department hide caption

itoggle caption AP/Oakland Police Department
Lovelle Mixon, seen in this undated photo, was killed during a shootout with police.

Lovelle Mixon, seen in this undated photo, was killed during a shootout with police that left three officers dead and one gravely wounded Saturday in Oakland, Calif.

AP/Oakland Police Department

The city of Oakland, Calif., is holding a candlelight vigil Tuesday to honor three police officers killed in the line of duty and a fourth officer who was declared brain dead after a weekend shootout with a parole violator after a routine traffic stop.

It's another tragedy for a city already torn by crime, and many residents are struggling to make sense of what happened.

The killings took place Saturday afternoon in a high crime area of East Oakland. Sgt. Mark Dunakin and officer John Hege stopped a car driven by Lovelle Mixon of Oakland, who was wanted on a no-bail warrant for a parole violation. Police say Mixon opened fire almost immediately, killing Dunakin and gravely wounding Hege.

Two hours later, a SWAT team tracked the gunman to a nearby apartment building. That's where Mixon, armed with an AK-47, killed Sgts. Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai.

Other SWAT team officers returned fire and killed Mixon.

An incredulous Mayor Ron Dellums spoke a few hours later. "Our hearts go out to the families that at this very moment are experiencing a level of tragedy and loss beyond our ability to comprehend, nor to express in words," Dellums said.

Oakland has a reputation as one of the most violent cities in the country, but the shootings have rocked this town.

Residents like Paulette Zazulak have been paying their respects at City Hall and signing condolence books for the fallen officers.

"I just want to cry. I'm just so sad that this has happened," said Zazulak, who has lived in Oakland for 30 years. "What the hardest part is, after so many years why do we have the same problems? Why are there still people who are killing each other on our streets? Why? Why? Why destroy people's lives?"

Mixon's family says the ex-con was frustrated because he hadn't been able to find work and was angry with his parole officer.

Tim Dennehy, a former Santa Clara County Jail guard who came to City hall to sign the condolence books, says he's met a lot of people like Lovelle Mixon.

"People come in, they're broken, they come from broken families, they go through life, they have no hope," Dennehy said. "Something will happen to spark them, to make them angry at anybody that wears any kind of uniform that makes them want to walk down a certain path. And if you happen to get in their way at the wrong time, it's going to be a tragedy."

Another mourner, a retired food services worker named Bobby Carver, had a few choice words to describe his feelings.

"Disgust. Sadness. They should start pulling the plug on these, these creeps," Carver said. "No business running around with loaded guns in his car. A parolee. The law just needs to get tougher on these creeps."

As the city prepares for Tuesday's vigil, Oakland's police department is reviewing the incident to determine what mistakes, if any, led to the loss of four of its officers.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.