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Not Guilty Plea During Raucous Hearing In Oakland Restaurant Murders

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Oakland shooting, Jack London Square

Scene outside a nightclub on the 300 block of Broadway near Jack London Square in Oakland on April 25, 2011. (CBS)

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) – An Oakland man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to two counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder for a shooting at a restaurant near Jack London Square in April that left two people dead and five people wounded.

The plea entry by 22-year-old Clem Thompkins was routine, but everything else surrounding his brief hearing was marked by drama.

First, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Carrie Panetta lectured Thompkins’ attorney, Dionne Choyce, for coming to court late and threatened to find him in contempt of court if it happens again.

Then, two friends of Thompkins got into a shouting match with the victims’ family members outside court and deputies had to separate them.

In addition to the murder and attempted murder charges, Thompkins is charged with acting to benefit a criminal street gang, with using a firearm to cause deaths and great bodily injuries and with five street terrorism clauses. He could face life in prison if he’s convicted of the charges against him.

Killed in the shooting at Sweet Jimmie’s at 311 Broadway at 12:42 a.m. on April 25 were 27-year-old William Jenkins of Oakland and 22-year-old Adam Williams of San Leandro.

Both were fathers of young children and Williams was an after-school teacher’s aide at Peralta Elementary in Oakland.

Five other people were wounded in the shooting but survived.

Oakland police said they don’t think any of the seven victims were the intended targets of the shooting.

Authorities said Thompkins and several other gang members drove by Sweet Jimmie’s and got into an argument with members of a rival gang who were standing outside the restaurant.

They said Thompkins and his associates drove off and the members of the other gang also left.

Thompkins and his associates returned to area a short time later with an assault rifle and Thompkins shot into the restaurant indiscriminately, police said.

Police are still seeking the other suspected gang members who were with Thompkins.

About 20 of Williams’ family members and friends, some wearing T-shirts emblazoned with his photo, attended Thompkins’ hearing Tuesday.

A similar number of people also attended a hearing Monday at which Thompkins was scheduled to enter a plea, but it was postponed when Choyce failed to show up.

The hearing was rescheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday, but Choyce didn’t appear until 11:15 a.m., earning a tongue-lashing from Panetta, who told him, “This is completely unacceptable” and “we’re not here for your convenience.”

Choyce said he mistakenly went to a different courthouse in Oakland on Monday and was delayed Tuesday by a hearing in another case.

Panetta told him, “I’m giving you one warning and next time I’ll sanction you.”

Williams’ stepfather, Prince Wilson, said “it’s upsetting to the family” that Thompkins’ plea entry was delayed numerous times and didn’t happen until Tuesday.

“We just want the trial to start and for justice to be served,” Wilson said.

Wilson worked as a custodian at Peralta Elementary, which is where he met Williams’ mother, June Edwards Wilson, who still works at the school as an aide and playground monitor.

“Our family is still hurting,” Wilson said.

He said the shooting illustrates that “the streets of Oakland are not safe.”

Wilson said, “It’s kids killing kids” and noted that Williams and Thompkins were almost exactly the same age, as they were born only a few weeks apart.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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