OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Alameda County prosecutors have declined to file charges against a man who turned himself in after a fatal April 10th shooting inside an Oakland liquor store — a slaying that set into motion several retaliatory crimes including a horrific arson fire that claimed the lives of a father and his 1-year-old daughter.
Without further comment, prosecutor Casey Bates told the East Bay Times — “After a thorough review of the evidence presented to us, we declined to file charges.”
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The unidentified man had turned himself in days following 25-year-old Dejoh Woods’ death inside Booker’s Liquor.
Investigators said Woods and the man got into an argument inside the store. Woods has ties to a local gang and police believe his associates later set fire to the liquor store and were also responsible for the shooting at another store in West Oakland that injured a cashier.
The retaliation took a horrific turn last weekend when an arsonist set fire to the home of Esam Musleh, who worked as a cashier at Booker’s Liquor, but was not involved in the fatal shooting. He and his daughter were innocent victims in the violent chain of events.
The fires and shootings remain under investigation. No suspect information has been released on the deadly arson blaze.
Musleh and his 1-year-old daughter Alia Musleh died when the fire engulfed their 3-story house located right across from the front entrance of Bishop O’Dowd High School at 12:14 a.m. Saturday. His pregnant wife remains hospitalized with burns.
Mohammed Alsamma, the victims’ cousin, is still trying to come to grips with their deaths. He said the family thought they had found a safe, new home in Oakland after living in fear for years in Yemen.
“We run from Yemen because of the war,” said Alsamma with an emotional edge to his voice. “We thought we are safe here, but death followed us to this place.”
Alsamma said the man who shot and killed Woods is from the Middle East.
“We are not related to the guy who shot (Woods),” Alasmma said. “So I don’t know why they came after us.”
Investigators said Esam Musleh died doing what he had always done — protecting his family from harm. He raced into the flames to try to rescue his trapped daughter. Firefighters found their bodies together.
“The father and the child were found together,” said Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong. “And so it’s really sad, but the father is a hero. He sacrificed his life.”
“It’s really sad that in our community that someone would do something so heinous, as in setting a home on fire in the middle of the night and killing an innocent family,” Armstrong added.
Esam and his daughter are Oakland’s 43rd and 44th homicides of the year. A year that is at a historic pace for deadly violence in the East Bay city.