OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Police in Oakland believe multiple shooters fired an estimated 70 rounds with high-capacity weapons at the party bus in a 21st birthday celebration that took a tragic, fatal turn early Tuesday on an Oakland freeway.
Oakland police said they believe multiple shooters targeted the party bus, riddling it with bullets and leaving two people dead and several others wounded early Tuesday morning.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said one shooting victim died at the scene and a second died at Highland Hospital in Oakland where other wounded passengers were taken.
KPIX learned early Tuesday evening that the identity of one of the shooting victims who died was 16-year-old Zoey Hughes of Modesto. The other victim who died was a 19-year-old woman from Stockton.
A total of five victims — all younger teens — were wounded in the shooting, KPIX learned.
Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong went to the hospital Tuesday afternoon to visit the shooting victims.
“Party buses are typically safe. And somebody came and targeted the bus, two shooters it appears,” said Armstrong. “They came here with a specific purpose. And the weapons they were using clearly were designed to cause significant injury to people and even kill people.”
Earlier Tuesday, California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Art Montiel also said the attack was not random.
However, authorities have not released a description of the shooter’s vehicle. The motive behind the attack was under investigation and the suspect or suspects in the shooting remained at large.
Authorities said the shooting took place at 12:19 a.m. on Interstate 580 at Seminary Avenue, west of the Highway 13 junction. The bus was reportedly returning to Oakland from San Francisco when the initial shooting occurred.
Oakland Police confirmed that there was a second crime scene being investigated at 67th and Foothill Boulevard where the gunman in the pursuing vehicle opened fire again.
The bus driver, who was apparently not injured, raced from the scene, seeking safe shelter and medical help at the Oakland police substation located at the former Eastmont mall.
People who stopped by to see the crime scene said the driver’s quick thinking likely saved lives.
“So the fact that he was able to keep his wits about him I, I applaud him,” said Oakland resident Joseph Stegner.
When asked what would have happened if he hadn’t gone to the police station,
Oakland resident Maria Brown said, “Lord knows. Lord knows I pray for the families of everybody that was killed, and those that were not killed. I just pray to God to bring them through. Just having a little party and somebody kills somebody and shoot up the bus like that? I just pray to God that they find a killer.”
The bus stood parked Monday morning in the police lot. At least 24 bullets holes were visible on its rear door. Another 12 or so were along its side and the windows shot out bearing witness to the ferocity of the attack.
A body was loaded into a coroner’s van, possibly a young woman from Stockton. A family member said she was a mother of a 3-year-old child.
Other family members stood nearby, awaiting word on their loved ones. The father of one of the wounded women told reporters those on the bus were celebrating his daughter’s 21st birthday.
The investigation shut down lanes on I-580 until nearly 3 a.m. as CHP officers searched for clues.
Casandra Brown’s daughter was caught in the crossfire while in her own car as the suspects fired on the bus.
“You can see the hole in her car and it was this big!” said Brown, making a circle with her thumb and middle finger about the size of a golf ball.
“The bus was going and it was shooting at the bus and her car happened to get shot,” Brown continued. “Not shot at; they didn’t target her. Whoever was shooting was just shooting.”
Brown went on to implore those behind the violence plaguing Oakland’s streets to stop.
“People, y’all please stop shooting! I’m scared for my own life, okay? Please put down the guns,” said Brown.
“How many lives do we have to lose before somebody says this is not okay?” asked Armstrong, echoing the sentiment.
The chief said his personal visit to see the victims recovering at Highland Hospital reminded him that those who were shot are family members, children and parents of others who are also suffering from the tragic results of gun violence.
“Looking at a young lady who was severely injured reminds me of my own children,” Armstrong said.
The party bus deaths were the 52nd and 53rd homicides of the year in Oakland, which had totaled 24 homicides at this same time last year.
A $40,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest of suspects in the case.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the CHP’s investigative tip line at (707) 917-4491.