Shots, Brawl Break Out at Oakland Church During Funeral

| April 28, 2010

A large street brawl involving more than 300 people erupted Tuesday after shots were fired inside an East Oakland church during a funeral for a man allegedly shot and killed by his teenage girlfriend, police said.

The "huge melee" left two women injured and elicited a citywide police response that resulted in five arrests, according to Oakland police Lt. Ersie Joyner.

The shots rang out around 12:20 p.m. during services for 18-year-old Davante Riley inside the Cosmopolitan Baptist Church at 988 85th Avenue.

Officers arrived and said they saw more than 300 people fighting outside the church in the street, including some carrying guns.

Joyner issued a citywide alert, which summoned all available on-duty officers to the area to deal with the crowd. He said emotions were running high but that the brawl eventually died down.

Police were able to respond quickly because many officers were already in the area for a daylong parole sweep.

No one was shot, but five people were arrested — including three on gun charges after weapons were recovered. Two of those arrested were taken into custody after being chased while trying to run away, Officer Holly Joshi said.

Two people were taken to hospitals complaining of pain, including a pregnant woman who was starting to have possible complications, Joyner said. The other injured woman may have been having an anxiety attack.

Joshi said it was "very lucky" that no one was hit by the gunfire.

A 16-year-old girl who declined to give her name said she was paying her respects to Riley, her friend, when gunfire broke out toward the end of the funeral service.

"Everybody started shooting and I was just running for my safety," she said.

Panicked, she ran across the street to her aunt's home and hid behind a fence. She appeared to be uninjured but was still shaken two hours after the shooting.

The girl said she thouhgt the shooting was "very disrespectful" both to Riley and the people attending the service.

The disturbance prompted the cancellation of an afternoon session at a Head Start program at the Tassafaronga center across the street.

Joyner said there were gang members at the funeral, but that Riley's family had maintained he was not involved in any gangs.

Riley was fatally shot early on the morning of April 18 while celebrating his 18th birthday at an apartment in the 2200 block of East 20th Street in Oakland.

Prosecutors have charged a 15-year-old girl with his murder. Police said she and Riley had been dating.

Alameda County Assistant District Attorney Matt Golde said Riley's shooting was unintentional but that he charged the girl with murder because he believed she acted recklessly in handling a gun at the party.

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Category: Church Security

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