Monday, March 23, 2009

Tragedy Strikes in Oakland, California Over the Weekend

Some of you may have noticed that I have not been doing Line of Duty Death posts for law enforcement officers this year - most of you may not. I did the posts all during last year to honor those officers who gave their all for their communities as well as to bring attention to the fact that good men and women were being killed right here in our own backyards simply doing the jobs whose oaths they took. The problem though was that with 140 officers becoming statistics last year, I have to admit that it got to be kind of depressing and I decided not to write the posts this year.

Just because I'm not writing the posts, though, doesn't mean I haven't been paying attention and no longer get the emails advising me every time there is a Line of a Duty Death. I have and I do and I say a prayer for each officer and his or her family every time I get one. Not writing about it doesn't make it go away as brave men and women are still losing their lives way too frequently fighting the battle against crime right here in America.

As I was watching the news at work Sunday morning, my heart skipped a beat when a story came on about three law enforcement officers in California who were killed Saturday with a fourth barely hanging on. Naturally the lead-in didn't say where in California and I think I held my breath until it was revealed that the shootings had occurred in Oakland - which is still way too close to Stockton for my liking. As a lot of you know, there are people I know in Stockton who are in law enforcement that I still worry about and Stockton isn't exactly one of those places where crime is on the decrease. Unfortunately.

Saturday's shootings were among the deadliest in California history and began when two motorcycle officers attempted to pull over a 1995 Buick on a routine traffic stop at approximately 1:00 p.m. near the Eastmont Town Center in East Oakland. The operator of the vehicle, a parolee who was wanted on a no-bail arrest warrant for violating parole on a previous assault with a deadly weapon conviction, opened fire on the two officers killing one and gravely wounding another.

Following the shooting of the motorcycle officers, the 27-year old suspect fled on foot and a massive manhunt ensued conducted by members of the Oakland Police Department, the Alameda Sheriff's Department, and the California Highway Patrol. The suspect was located approximately two hours later after a tip led officers to an apartment building just blocks away from a police substation in East Oakland. As heavily armed SWAT Team Members descended upon the apartment to take the suspect into custody, two more police officers were shot dead inside the apartment with an assault weapon.

A fifth officer, whom police did not identify, was grazed by a bullet; he was treated and later released from a local hospital. The gunman was also killed in the shoot-out that was described by some as a "Wild West" scene.

Acting Police Chief Howard Jordan identified the slain officers as: Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, of Tracy, who was killed during the traffic stop; and Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, of Danville, and Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35, of Castro Valley, both members of the SWAT Team that were killed at the apartment where the gunman was holed up. Dunakin was with the department since 1991, Romans since 1996 and Sakai since 2000.

A police spokesman said a fourth officer, 41-year-old Officer John Hege of Concord, was pronounced brain dead but was still on life support Sunday afternoon pending organ donation arrangements. Officer Hege, shot during the course of the first traffic stop, had been with the Oakland Police Department since 1999.

"This is probably one of the worst incidents that has ever taken place in the history of the Oakland police department," said Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason. The deaths of officers are nothing new in Oakland, though; the memorial wall in the Oakland Police headquarters shows that at least 47 officers died before Saturday with the last officer killed in Oakland in 2004 when William Seuis, 39, died in a hit-and-run crash. The department has been in operation since 1867.

Tension between the police and citizens has been running high since the shooting death of a 22-year old unarmed man in January by a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer at an Oakland train station. A preliminary hearing was set for today for the former officer who has pleaded not guilty to murder charges but has been delayed to May 18th due to the weekend's shooting deaths.

Tension aside, this weekend was horribly tragic for not only the families of the slain officers but also for their fellow officers from all over the State and for the citizens of Oakland themselves who find themselves living in a pressure cooker.

"In these moments, words are extraordinarily inadequate," Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums told reporters at a news conference Saturday night at Oakland police headquarters. "We come together in shock, in grief, in sadness and sorrow. Our hearts go out to the officers' families who are experiencing a level of tragedy that goes beyond our ability to comprehend."

"These folks leave their homes in the morning, with every expectation of returning," Dellums said, "but they did not." And they never will again.

My heart goes out to the families, friends, and colleagues of these four brave men who gave their all to the City of Oakland and the people they swore to protect and serve.


  1. My heart goes out to them, too. My sister faces that possible scenario every time my BIL leaves the house.

  2. As a matter of fact I had noticed. Did figure it had something to do with how depressing that had gotten.

    Tragic Story, this and now 2 more plane crashes.. Grief all around us this weekend. I pray for all the families these tragedy's have touched.

  3. I always hate to hear about things like this. My brother is a police officer here in VA. Thankfully he is not on the street any more, but that doesn't make the danger go away or the worry leave. I hold my breath every time I hear of an officer shooting until I know he is safe. I think it is nice that you honor these men and women but I can certainly see why it would be depressing to blog about it each time a shooting death occurs.

  4. what the hell has happened to America if a police officer cannot make a traffice stop

  5. Ah.. that is sad and depressing but they died and have something to be proud of, serving Oakland and its citizens for years.

    Every time I watch the news, it's always about someone killing somebody.

  6. I agree w/Sarge Charlie! And for you, Linda, {{{hugs}}}.

  7. why in the hell do idiots feel that by killing a cop that their troubles will go away?The scumbag get exactly what he deserved.What ever happened to cooperatring with a law enforcement officer,if you are in the wrong you"man up"and do the time.

  8. This one is really tragic. One of the residents made the statement that snitching is as bad as a murderer. What? They knew where the bad guy was but no one said a word. Result? More death.

    Have a terrific day Linda. Big hug. :)

  9. How awful. It made our news here in OH as well. May they rest in peace.

  10. It's just terrible and oh so sad :(

  11. Peace Officers for Christ International (for police officers who are Christians) has adopted a Bible verse....John 15:13....which best states our main principle. As a retired FL Corrections Officer, this verse best states my devotion to my bride. These four murdered officers exemplify this verse in a way no other action could. Our heartfelt prayers go to all families, fellow officers, and friends. For those who think that capital punishment "too cruel", read Genesis 9:6, Exodus 21:12, Deuteromony 19:11,12, and Proverbs 28:17. The death penalty is MANDATED by the Bible for intentionally causing the death of another person. Law enforcement officers ARE ministers of God as written in Romans 13:1-7. We must thank Almighty God for HIS "government"....AND for His loving kindnes to the suffering through His Son, Jesus Christ.

  12. How sad to hear that these fine people had been killed.

  13. Really Heartbreaking. This tragic event has been on our radio and television almost constantly as new developments come up. (And we were in Tracy this weekend.) The sadness and shock was being discussed everywhere.

    The parolee purposely shot the officers in such a way as to avoid their vests and protective gear to murder them.

    Hell has a special place...

  14. What a tragedy and so very sad.

  15. Isn't this such a sad thing that has happened in Oakland? My prayers go out to the families of these fallen officers.

  16. It makes me fighting mad. Not only am I glad they were able to shoot and kill the SOB, but I think it should a mandatory death sentence if you kill a policeman. And carried out quickly - none of this sitting on death row for twenty years. That in itself is an outrage.
    We've become such a nation of wimps and cowards that it hurts my heart.
    Thanks for posting this, Linda. I know how it must hurt your heart, too.

  17. My heart does go out to the officers who
    where killed in the line of just doing their Job...But I think that we need to focus on the future rather than grieving all the time;
    Why grieve when we should do something about it instead of feeling sorry for the people dieing In Oakland everyday- Especially Young ppl-
    I wonder.. seance you post articles of tragedies right hear in Oakland, Have you yet to read about other tragedies that keep happening over and over again?
    I have a cousin- Christopher Gonzalez who was stabbed at the Oakland Bart Station,
    the same Bart station that his friend Oscar was wrongfully shot and killed by Oakland police- My cousin Chris died right in the arms of my uncle - Christopher's Own Father---
    he was only 18 years old-
    Media calls it a Robbery That Gone Wrong...
    and the suspect was my cousin and the victim is the man who killed Chris-
    But if Chris really did try to rob the guy? Don't we ever ask our selves why are these young kids dieing for the stupidest reasons? Well maybe it's because they feel like they don't have anything else- maybe they need guidance?
    His parents couldn't give it to him? They where to busy working to keep food on the table and a roof over their head, but if they where able to turn back time they would change that in a heart beat- I don't see ppl give em the guidance they need, instead I see ppl judge we should stop this cycle and do something about it.
    Now my uncle and my anti don't have any anything- They have no justice no answers and no son-
    The only thing they where left with was empty space in their heart after crying for soo long and a statement from the media stating that Chris was the bad guy...
    Don't let this happen to one of your kid's- Or someone else kid- Do something about it like I am....

    Deleima Gonzalez-
    R.I.P Chris Gonzalez
    1/16/90- 9/23/09


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