OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A suspect wounded an Oakland police officer early Wednesday and was also shot by police before barricading himself inside a building, triggering a tense standoff that ended when negotiators convinced him to surrender, authorities said.
Oakland police said the unidentified officer was wounded in a shooting near 21st St. and Telegraph Ave. after responding to a disturbance call at 6:30 a.m. The officer was taken to Highland Hospital for treatment and was in stable condition with injuries that were not life-threatening.READ MORE: FBI Gang Enforcement Operations Lead to Charges in 2 Attempted Homicides in East Bay
During a Wednesday morning news conference, Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said another officer returned fire after the 50-year-old male suspect opened fire on arriving officers.
“The suspect immediately began to fire shots at the officer,” said Armstrong. “The officer was struck with that gunfire and through our investigation we know now that our officer, additional officer did fire back – so we do have and officer-involved shooting that we’re also investigating – striking the suspect with non-life threatening injuries.”
Raw Video: Chief LeRonne Armstrong press conference on officer-involved shooting, standoff
Investigators said a gun was recovered at the shooting scene. The suspect — who police believed was also armed with a knife — fled to a building in the 2100 block of Martin Luther King Way. Officers surrounded the building, triggering a standoff.
Police negotiators and the city’s mental health response team arrived at the scene and talked the armed suspect into peacefully surrendering around 8:15 a.m. A knife was recovered at the scene. The suspect’s identity has not be released.
The standoff affected operations at the adjacent Oakland VA hospital 2221 MLK Way. The VA issued an alert about an active shooter incident but indicated the suspect was in police custody. Some patients visits were rescheduled and access to the building was limited for the duration of the standoff.
It was just the latest incident of violence on Oakland streets.
“This is the sober reminder of how dangerous it is in the city of Oakland,” Armstrong said. “How armed suspects will quickly utilize these firearms toward our officers like we’ve seen in so many other cases. The hundred homicides in our city. Three shootings last night alone. The level of violence in this city continues to be intolerable.”
The chief cited a “proliferation of firearms” in the community that is fueling the surge in violence.
“We’ve recovered over 850 guns already this year,” he said. “It says that not only are guns too readily available, but we also have so many people that are willing to use these guns against others, and today, unfortunately, someone chose to use one against a police officer.”READ MORE: Conservatives to QAnon: Facebook Researchers Saw How Its Algorithms Led to Misinformation
Following the shooting, the suspect ran into the lobby of the nearby Embark Apartments, home to 60 U.S. military veterans. Erroll Jenkins Jr. was coming downstairs to get breakfast when he saw the suspect stabbing himself.
“As I got downstairs to the lobby, officers had their guns pointed at me and said ‘Get back upstairs go up to your room immediately,'” said Jenkins. The guy was barricaded in the little cubicle area where our front desk person stands and he was stabbing himself repeatedly, as if he was trying to commit suicide and end the whole thing.”
“[Mental health counselors] began to negotiate with the suspect. We were able to create a rapport with the suspect – the suspect agreed to surrender” said Armstrong. “We have recovered the firearm that was used in this crime. We also recovered the knife that the suspect used to injure himself.”
Jenkins, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, says he was impressed with how OPD officers handled the situation.
“I thought they handled it very well for the magnitude of the situation,” said Jenkins. “They definitely could’ve used real bullets and it could’ve escalated – bullets flying everywhere crossfire, hostages potentially.”
After the city recorded its 100th homicide of the year, city council members — who had previously voted to reduce resources to the police force — reversed their course late Tuesday. In a 6-to-2 vote the council voted to increase the number of new police recruits.
“Good policing requires officers that are not just running from 911 call to 911 call or are exhausted because they’re working too much overtime,” Mayor Libby Schaaf told council members. “Oakland has the lowest per violent crime staffing of any department in America.”
The city’s 100th murder victim of 2021 was a man found shot to death Monday morning outside the Coliseum BART station. On Tuesday afternoon, Oakland officers were called to another shooting as a man was rushed to a hospital after gunfire near Bond and High Streets.
At a Monday afternoon press conference on the recent rise in gun violence in Oakland — which saw 10 homicides in the space of a week — Armstrong expressed his frustration over the escalating number of homicides.
“We can be vocal about certain things. I just don’t understand why this community can’t be vocal about a hundred lives lost,” said a clearly frustrated Armstrong. “We can scream and yell about anything that the police department does wrong, but in this time, we cant speak up about what’s plaguing all of us. And that’s gun violence.”
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Andria Borba contributed to this report