3 Officers Dead, Suspect Killed in Oakland, Calif.

Terry Collins and Lisa Leff, AP, March 22, 2009

Three Oakland police officers and a suspect are dead, and another officer is in grave condition, after two related shootings on Saturday, the first after a traffic stop and the second after a massive manhunt ended in gunfire, police said.

Two officers were shot in the first incident just after 1 p.m. after they stopped a suspect’s vehicle in east Oakland, said Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason.

The suspect fled the scene on foot into a nearby neighborhood, police said, leading to an intense manhunt by dozens of Oakland police, California Highway Patrol officers and Alameda County sheriff deputies. Streets were roped off and an entire area of east Oakland closed to traffic.

At about 3:30 p.m. officers, acting on an anonymous tip, found the suspect, who had barricaded himself in an apartment building, police said.

Police said the suspect, 27-year-old Lovelle Mixon, of Oakland, fired an assault rifle at officers who came into the building to arrest him. Two officers were killed and a third was grazed by a bullet, police said.

Acting Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan said police returned fire, killing Mixon.

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Hours after Saturday’s shootings near a busy intersection just blocks from a police substation in east Oakland, people were still at the scene of the first shooting as police tape blocked off streets.

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Tension between police and the community has risen steadily since the fatal shooting of unarmed 22-year-old Oscar Grant by a transit police officer at an Oakland train station on Jan. 1.

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On Saturday afternoon, about 20 people taunted police near the scene of the first shooting.

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oakland

Lovelle Mixon.

[Editor’s Note: A website that has since been suspended for a violation of the terms of service published a few reactions the next day. “Extraordinary. Thank God for him,” wrote GhettoBraggingRights publisher Julius Perkins. “Lovelle Mixon: four stars, two thumbs up,” wrote “Black Foot Soldier Ebenezer Creek” of Savannah, Georgia. And “Black Foot Soldier Masontae Limbrick” of Houston wrote, “In history’s ears he’ll ring.” And these were just three of the jubilant comments.]


A fourth Oakland police officer was pronounced dead Sunday in the wake of a shooting rampage by a 26-year-old parolee who, according to family members, knew he was a wanted man and did not want to go back to prison.

Motorcycle officer John Hege, 41, was declared brain dead Sunday morning at Highland Hospital in Oakland and remained on life support to preserve his organs for donation.

His death made Saturday’s shootings in East Oakland the deadliest attacks on California law enforcement in almost four decades.

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The chaotic shootout occurred in a darkened apartment filled with smoke from officers’ nonlethal shock grenades and dust from bullets ripping through drywall. It ended when SWAT team officers returned fired and killed Mixon, authorities said.

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Law enforcement authorities revealed Sunday that Mixon had been investigated last year in another homicide case in Alameda County. Details of that slaying were not immediately released, but prosecutors found there was not enough evidence to charge him.

Outburst puzzles police

Oakland investigators said they were not aware of Mixon’s possible connection to the earlier slaying. They said they were perplexed about what triggered Mixon’s sudden outburst of violence against their officers.

“This is a strange one,” said Oakland police Capt. Steve Tull, who is overseeing the investigation. “We don’t know what his motivation is.” If authorities found he had violated the conditions of his parole, Mixon would have faced at most six months in prison, Tull said.

Mixon “weighed six months” against his own life and the lives of the officers, Tull said.

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“He’s not a monster,” said [Mixon’s] sister, 24-year-old Enjoli Mixon, who said her 4-year-old daughter’s bedroom in a small apartment on 74th Avenue was the scene of much of the bloodshed. It was there, police said, where Mixon fired through a closet wall at a team of SWAT officers, who then shot and killed him. “I don’t want people to think he’s a monster. He’s just not. He’s just not.”

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Assault conviction in 2002

Lovelle Mixon was convicted in 2002 of assault with a deadly weapon after an armed robbery in San Francisco, family members said. He served time in San Francisco County Jail and Corcoran State Prison. He had been released on parole in 2007, then was sent back to prison for nine months in 2008 after he had violated his parole. His attorney in the assault case, Lisa DewBerry, declined comment Sunday.

His family said that while he was behind bars, Mixon married his childhood girlfriend, Amara Langston, and worked briefly as a janitor in Hayward once he got out. He was most recently released from prison in November, his family said.

Then, about three weeks ago, Mixon skipped a home visit from his parole officer, his family said. Mixon’s grandmother said he had gotten angry at his parole officer because the agent had missed earlier appointments. {snip}

“We did pick him up previously, (and) he has been looked at as a suspect in other serious crimes,” Hinkle said. “He was a suspect in a murder, but due to lack of evidence, on a homicide, he was charged with other violations.”

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