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Popular Oakland Shop Owner Killed During Apparent Robbery Attempt

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Wilbur Bartley

Wilbur Bartley (Oakland Police Dept.)

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) – A steady stream of mourners stopped by an East Oakland cellphone store Thursday to pay tribute to 50-year-old owner Wilbur Bartley, who was fatally shot during an apparent robbery Wednesday night.

“He was such a sweet guy,” Audrey Taylor said while fighting back tears outside Marcus Cellular at 9230 International Blvd.

Oakland police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said one or two gunmen confronted and shot Bartley about 7:20 p.m. as he was closing his store, which he had owned since 1996.

Taylor said Bartley had been helpful to her while fixing the cellphone she had bought from his about a year ago.

She said, “I was sick when I heard about this. All of this killing has to stop.”

Anthony Sheppard, 30, who said he has known Bartley for 14 years and used to bike ride with one of Bartley’s son’s, described Bartley as “a calm, good-hearted guy” who would work with customers who couldn’t afford to pay their bills on time.

Sheppard said he is “very upset” about Bartley’s death and wonders how the culprit or culprits can sleep at night.

Vincent Martin, a U.S. Navy veteran from Oakland who bought a cell phone from Bartley about a year ago, said Bartley “was a pillar and icon of the community.”

Martin said Bartley “wasn’t arrogant and was very friendly.”

Martin said, “When I found out about it I cried. This is ridiculous and all this violence is unnecessary.”

Yolanda Delahoussaye said Bartley “was genuine and had a nice personality.”

Sobbing, Delahoussaye said if she wasn’t able to pay her entire bill Bartley would tell her not to worry about it and pay it later.

Sheppard said Bartley “was a good guy who would help you and work with you.”

He said an example was the time he owed Bartley $43 but didn’t have all the money so Bartley told him to pay part of the bill that month and the rest later.

Watson said police are treating the fatal shooting as a robbery-homicide but didn’t disclose what, if anything, was taken from Bartley or the store. She also didn’t release any suspect information.

Watson said Bartley’s death “is a real loss for the community because the community knew him and loved him.”

She said Bartley gave Oakland Raiders tickets to kids who couldn’t afford to go to their games, and was passing out Halloween candy to children shortly before he was shot Wednesday night.

Watson said there’s a reward of up to $10,000 for the arrest of the suspect or suspects in the case. She said people with information about the shooting can call the Oakland Police Department’s major crimes section at (510) 238-3821 or Crime Stoppers at (510) 777-8572.

Mourners have left candles, flowers, balloons, a teddy bear and other items in front of Marcus Cellular, which is closed and gated up. The balloons are in the Raiders colors of silver and black, to mark Bartley’s love of the football team.

There’s also a t-shirt hanging outside the store that says, “Rest in God’s Hands” and “You will forever be remembered” and has drawings of cellphones.

Watson said she can’t release information on Bartley’s family members but Sheppard said Bartley had two sons and lived on 96th Avenue, just a few blocks from his cellphone store.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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