Sunday, March 22, 2009
Police Tragedy in Oakland, California
There is no such thing as a “routine” traffic stop. This horrible tragedy proves once again that cops are at risk every moment of their work day.
The victims were Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, Officer John Hege,41, Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35, and Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43.
This story is from the Associated Press:
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Gunman Kills Police Officers in Oakland
Some Bystanders Taunt Police After Slayings
By TERRY COLLINS and LISA LEFF, Associated Press
OAKLAND, Calif. (March 22) - A police officer shot during a traffic stop has been pronounced brain dead but remained on life support, police said Sunday, retracting an earlier statement that he had died.
Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason announced the death of 41-year-old Officer John Hege earlier Sunday but later said that Hege was being kept alive while a final decision was made about donating his organs.
Police said a 26-year-old parolee wanted on a parole violation opened fire on Hege and Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, during a traffic stop Saturday afternoon, killing Dunakin, police said.
Lovelle Mixon, the suspect, was slain later Saturday in a gunfight with police that left two more officers dead. Thomason identified those officers as 43-year-old Sgt. Ervin Romans and 35-year-old Sgt. Daniel Sakai.
Oakland police said never in the department's history had so many officers been killed in the line of duty in a single day.
People lingered at the scene of the first shooting. About 20 bystanders taunted police.
The violence began when Hege and Dunakin, both on motorcycles, stopped a 1995 Buick sedan in east Oakland, Thomason said. The driver opened fire, killing Dunakin and gravely wounding Hege.
The gunman then fled on foot, 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.
Around 3:30 p.m. officers got an anonymous tip that the gunman was inside a nearby apartment building. A SWAT team entered the building when the gunman opened fire, police said. Romans and Sakai were killed and a third officer was grazed by a bullet, police said.
Officers returned fire, killing Mixon, Acting Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan said.
"It's in these moments that words are extraordinarily inadequate," said Mayor Ron Dellums at a somber news conference announcing the slayings.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered flags at the state capitol flown at half-staff Sunday in honor of the slain officers. He arrived in Oakland on Sunday afternoon to meet with Dellums and members of the police department.
"All four officers dedicated their lives to public safety and selflessly worked to protect the people of Oakland," he said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those lost, the Oakland Police Department and law enforcement officers throughout California during this difficult time."
Police said Mixon used two different weapons: a gun at the first scene and an assault rifle at the apartment building where he was hiding.
"(Mixon) was on parole, and he had a warrant out for his arrest for violating that parole. And he was on parole for assault with a deadly weapon," said Oakland police Deputy Chief Jeffery Israel.
Police said they did not know why the officers initially stopped the suspect, but said it apparently was a routine traffic stop. Thomason said Mixon had an extensive criminal history and was wanted on a no-bail warrant.
Reached by telephone late Saturday, Dr. John S. Hege said his son loved being a policeman and recently became a motorcycle traffic patrol officer. "He liked excitement," he said.
Hege said the slain shooting suspect "was evidently terribly desperate. It is a sad story."
LaTasha Mixon, 28, of Sacramento said Sunday that her cousin was "not a monster." She said her family's prayers were with the slain officers' relatives. "We're devastated. Everybody took a major loss. We're crushed," she said.
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Our thoughts and prayers go out to these men, their families and their fellow law enforcement officers.
Charles M. Grist