The day before Lovelle Mixon unleashed a barrage of gunfire that killed four Oakland police officers, the department’s investigators learned that DNA evidence had linked the fugitive parolee to an unsolved rape this year, authorities said Monday.
The possibility that Mixon feared being arrested for rape is a key factor for investigators trying to understand why the 26-year-old Oakland man opened fire on two motorcycle officers who pulled him over for a traffic stop Saturday afternoon at 74th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard.
Witnesses said Mixon stood over the wounded officers, Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, and Officer John Hege, 41, and fired at least one round into each with a handgun before fleeing on foot to his sister’s apartment half a block down 74th, acting Police Chief Howard Jordan said.
Although the reason for the traffic stop isn’t known, Jordan said witness accounts indicate that Dunakin, possibly suspicious of what turned out to be a fake driver’s license, motioned to Hege to remove Mixon from his car just before Mixon opened fire.
When SWAT officers, acting on a tip, later stormed the nearby apartment, Mixon opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle, killing Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, and Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35, and wounding Sgt. Pat Gonzales before other officers shot him to death.
Officials at a state laboratory reported to police Friday that DNA from a rape that happened in late January or early February matched Mixon’s, said Lt. Kevin Wiley, who oversees the police sex crimes unit.
Mixon’s DNA was on file because of his conviction in 2002 for assault with a deadly weapon in an attempted carjacking in San Francisco, for which he served six years in prison. The state lab’s match was reported Friday afternoon to an Oakland police sex crimes investigator, Officer Herb Webber, Wiley said.
Webber got the news shortly before leaving work at his scheduled time, Wiley said. Police could not have issued an arrest warrant immediately for Mixon because investigators first would have needed to gather another sample of his DNA for comparison purposes, the lieutenant said.
Wiley said the victim had been raped in Oakland and did not know her attacker. She helped police produce a composite sketch of the attacker, but police would not reveal other details of the case.
Police are investigating a second, similar rape to determine whether Mixon might be a suspect, said Officer Jeff Thomason, a department spokesman. “We’re looking to see if there’s more,” he said.
Oakland investigators have suspected Mixon of being involved in other crimes but were never able to produce enough evidence to bring charges.
Police had been searching for Mixon since he was declared a parolee at large in February, authorities said Monday.
Oakland police had also considered Mixon a suspect in the December 2007 slaying of Ramon Stevens, 42, who was shot and killed on the street near the corner of 86th Avenue and International Boulevard. Mixon was detained on a parole violation in February 2008, but homicide investigators could not make a case.
The victim’s sister said a witness had told her Mixon was the killer, authorities said. But Assistant District Attorney Tom Rogers said Monday that the witness did not want to cooperate, and Mixon was freed in November.
Court records show that Mixon had only a 10th-grade education. He moved to the Oakland area in 1996 from Atlanta and was a special education student at Skyline High School before dropping out.
He accumulated a long list of juvenile offenses in Alameda County, including possession of stolen property, vandalism, petty theft and battery, court records show.
In March 2002, Mixon and two other attackers tried to carjack a truck, fired a shot and pistol-whipped the driver on Mission Street near Sixth Street in San Francisco.
[Editor’s Note: Earlier stories on Lovelle Mixon’s rampage can be read here.]