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At least 15 shot, 1 arrest following sideshow melee at Oakland Lake Merritt

Several injured in shooting, violence during Oakland Juneteenth celebration
Several injured in shooting, violence during Oakland Juneteenth celebration 01:28

OAKLAND -- Sixteen people ended up in the hospital following an outbreak of violence at a Juneteenth celebration near Oakland's Lake Merritt on Wednesday night, Oakland Police Chief Floyd Mitchell said.

At least 15 people were shot, one suffered an injury not related to a gunshot and some officers were assaulted after a sideshow broke out into fights and then gunfire in the 400 block of Grand Avenue, Mitchell said at a Thursday news conference.

Police have made an arrest for an assault on an officer but no arrests have yet been made for any of the shootings or other violence.

At about 8:15 p.m., approximately 20 vehicles including ATVs and dirt bikes initiated an illegal sideshow, Mitchell said. During the sideshow, someone walked across the hood of a vehicle, which lead to multiple people exiting the car and "violently attacking" the person. This then led to multiple fights breaking out along Grand Avenue between Euclid and Bellevue avenues.

"Unfortunately, these fights escalated into multiple people discharging firearms, with more than 50 shell casings being recovered," said Mitchell.

As officers arrived and began to render aid to injured people, Mitchell said individuals within the crowd began to attack officers. Deputy Chief James Beere said that officers were punched in the face and upper body.

In total, 15 people went to the hospital with gunshot wounds and one person was treated for an undisclosed injury. The victims are between 20 to 30 years of age, Mitchell said. Their injuries ranged from minor gunshot or flesh wounds to loss of fingers. One person was still in critical condition as of Thursday afternoon.

The Oakland Police Officers Association blamed the violence toward police on understaffing in the department.

"If city leaders truly value public safety, we need to make serious considerations about adequately staffing the Oakland Police Department," read a statement released by the union Thursday. "Yesterday alone, our officers were stretched thin, handling a homicide, multiple shootings, and an incident involving an individual armed with a rifle in addition to the Juneteenth celebration."

Mitchell and Beere pushed back on the idea that there were not enough officers to handle the Juneteenth event, saying that there were 100 officers on patrol Wednesday night, 30 of which were at the lake.

"You have to understand this is a large city," said Mitchell. "We had officers there on special detail to provide high visibility there."

Mitchell also said that some officers had been called to a report of someone with a rifle in West Oakland, and also a homicide prior to that.

Mitchell said that going forward this summer, Oakland police will request assistance from other law enforcement agencies, and his department will restrict traffic flow in the area of the melee to reduce the opportunity for sideshows. He also said a larger police presence will be planned for the Fourth of July.

"The opportunity to celebrate with your family and friends should never be marred by gunfire," said Mitchell, adding that the department will "work tirelessly" to identify and arrest the suspects involved in Wednesday's shootings.

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