OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — The Oakland police chief and mayor held a news conference Thursday morning to release more details about what happened when two students and four adults were shot at school and the gunmen slipped away.
No arrests have been made within the 24 hours since the mass shooting at Rudsdale Newcomer High School Wednesday. All of the victims were affiliated with Rudsdale, located on the King Estates Campus in East Oakland.
Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said there were at least two gunmen and more than 30 rounds were fired. The assailants shot two students, a school counselor, a security guard, and two school staff members, Armstrong said.
“They did not make it deep into the school. They breached the school and immediately began to fire,” he said.
The shooting was motivated by a “group and gang conflict. The individuals who were shot were not the (intended) targets,” Armstrong said.
The two most gravely injured victims are in critical but stable condition. Armstrong declined to say if the critically-injured victims were students, because, “the individuals responsible for this are still out in our community, armed, and dangerous.”
At 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, multiple 911 callers told emergency dispatchers that several victims had been shot and the gunmen may still be barricaded on campus.
Oakland Police Department officers, Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies, and California Highway Patrol officers arrived and rapidly assessed the scene as an “active shooter scene with victims on the campus. They did not wait, they immediately went in to save any lives they could. Our officers did not wait to receive keys to classrooms. They used breaching tools to enter every classroom to conduct a thorough search of the entire campus … to ensure the entire campus was safe,” the police chief said.
In addition to the two shooters, investigators believe there was a getaway driver and a possible fourth accomplice involved.
Officers swarmed the campus and searched classrooms with guns drawn, according to witness cellphone videos.
There are several schools clustered on the King Estates Campus, including Bay Area Technology School and Sojourner Truth Independent Study. Surveillance videos showed the shooters entering Rudsdale Newcomer High School using the front door.
“There were more than 30 rounds fired on this campus,” the police chief said. “We thank God that many more students were not injured.”
A 10-year-old student, Charae Pollard, was sitting in her classroom when her teacher suddenly locked the classroom doors and closed the window blinds. Pollard’s mother, Chenee Wilson, was notified of the shooting, immediately left work, and rushed to pick up her daughter. “My thing was, was it kids? Was it her friend? It was really scary,” Wilson told KRON4.
Wilson was one of many parents who rushed to the schools to make sure their children were OK. Assistant Police Chief Darren Allison said, “As a parent I completely understand the fear, the emotion, the panic of shootings occurring at schools with young children.”
Many of Rudsdale Newcomer High School’s students are immigrants who fled their home countries to escape violence. “They are all between 16-21 years old and are navigating systems in the U.S. for the first time as adolescents. A majority of them are working to support themselves and their families while also pursuing a high school diploma. Due to their migration experiences, our students have faced a lot of trauma but are also trying to be adolescents in high school,” Oakland Unified School District’s website states.
Gun violence has surged in Oakland over the past two weeks, including nine homicides.
OUSD spokesperson John Sasaki said, “This has been a rough year for Oakland. This cannot keep happening in our city. Anybody who would engage in this, realize that there’s always a better choice to make.”
The day before the school shooting, Armstrong said his department was going “all hands on deck” to stop “loss of life.” Armstrong said the spike in homicides was also fueled by clashes between “groups and gangs.” He ordered more officers to patrol the streets of east and west Oakland to deter gang retaliation shootings.
OPD officers, however, are not allowed to be on school campuses unless there is an emergency. Sasaki said police officers were removed from all of the district’s schools in response to the George Floyd movement.
Mayor Libby Schaaf said Wednesday’s violence was “yet another horrific school shooting in America. When gun violence violates the sanctity of our children’s schools, it rocks us to our cores. And it should. We will wrap our arms around these communities that have been traumatized by senseless gun violence.”
Schaaf strongly condemned “unbridled psychosis of violence.”
Three of the victims were transported to Alameda Health System’s Highland Hospital.
“As the safety-net health care provider in Alameda County tasked with healing and serving all in our community, it is incumbent on us to the sound the alarm. We’re seeing an increase in gun violence that is devastating,” said James Jackson, CEO of Alameda Health System.
The Oakland Police Chief is urging anyone with information to reach out and help detectives identify and find the Rudsdale Newcomer High School shooters.
So far, police have not released any descriptions of the suspects. Armstrong said his investigators will likely release surveillance video to the public soon.
If you have information about this case, call the Oakland Police Department Homicide Section at (510) 238-3821 or the TIP LINE at (510) 238-7950.
“The most vulnerable people in our community are our children. A school is a place where our children should not have to worry about being a victim of gun violence. I am calling on our Oakland community to bring those responsible to justice. Those responsible for this crime have brought fear and trauma,” Armstrong said.
Allison said, “We have our Ceasefire teams as well as our Violent Crimes Operation teams actively following up on leads so we can bring to justice those responsible for their heinous act.”
Classes at Rudsdale and Sojourner Truth Independent Study were canceled on Friday and Monday, Oct. 3.