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California Highway Gunman Byron Williams Aimed for "Revolution," Say Cops

Suspect In California Shootout Targeted Nonprofit Organizations, Say Police
Byron Williams (CBS)

OAKLAND, Calif. (CBS/KPIX/AP) A California man accused in a shootout with California Highway Patrol officers in Oakland early Sunday told officials that he traveled to San Francisco and planned to attack two nonprofit groups there "to start a revolution," according to a probable cause statement released by police.

Bryon Williams, 45, a convicted felon with two prior bank robbery convictions, targeted workers at the American Civil Liberties Union and the Tides Foundation, said Oakland police Sgt. Michael Weisenberg in court documents.

Officer Jeff Thomason, an Oakland police spokesman, claimed Williams targeted the two nonprofit organizations because of their political ideologies. The Tides Foundation works to advance progressive social change, according to its Web site.

Williams was pulled over for speeding and weaving through traffic Saturday night on an Oakland highway. California Highway Patrol officers say once they approached his truck they found Williams alone, donning a bulletproof vest and armed with three guns, including a rifle.

Police say Williams armed himself with a handgun and started to exchange fire with the officers, and a 12-minute shootout followed. More officers responded after Williams reportedly reloaded three different guns inside his truck, reported CBS affiliate KPIX. After the exchange two CHP officers were taken to a hospital where they were treated for minor injuries. Williams was admitted to a hospital and treated for gunshot wounds to his arms and legs.

Williams "made a decision that he would not be arrested and that he was willing to shoot and kill officers," according to the probable cause filing.

After his release Williams sat in a wheelchair with his head bowed during his arraignment Tuesday in the Alameda County Superior Court. He refused to enter a plea as the judge recited his charges, which include four counts of attempted murder of a peace officer, several weapons charges, and a count of possessing body armor while a convicted felon, reported KPIX.

The judge also indicated that Williams' two previous bank robbery convictions--one in 1995 and another in 2001--could make him eligible for life in prison according to California's Three Strikes Law if he is convicted in the freeway shootout.

According to Thomason, Williams told investigators that he was disturbed because he was unable to find a job due to the poor economy.

Williams' mother, Janice Williams, said to the San Francisco Chronicle that her son was angry with "the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items."

CHP spokesman, Sam Morgan, said the FBI is now involved in the case after a bomb squad robot recovered a binder labeled "California" from Williams' truck.

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