Manhunt continues for Oakland school shooters who injured six

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As police continue to search for multiple gunmen who shot six people at an Oakland school this week, families and community leaders are left picking up the pieces of the latest instance of gun violence in a wave of shootings that have rocked the city for over two and half years.

“I think that the school shooting is a sign that the pot is simmering and now boiling over,” said Rev. Harry Williams, the executive director of Ground Game Ministries, which works to quell violence. He said gun violence has become more random and spread to community hubs that were once thought of as off-limits. “The codes that govern the streets for so many years have eroded.”

Gun violence around the country has been on a tear since the pandemic, but the problem is especially concentrated in parts of East Oakland, which has long contended with high rates of gang violence erupting into gunfire. Oakland’s Highland Hospital, a major regional trauma center, has seen 402 gunshot wound patients in 2022, an 81 percent increase in gunshot wounds over the same period in 2019, according to data released by the hospital.

This month – capped by the school shooting on Wednesday – has only heightened the devastating trend with 63 patients suffering from bullet wounds at Highland Hospital.

“September 2022 has been a record-setting month for gunshot wounds in the history of Highland Hospital,” said James Jackson, CEO of Alameda Health System, which includes the Oakland hospital. “That’s why I’m sounding the alarm. Violent crime was at a record low pre-pandemic. This level of violence is new, and I won’t accept it as a new norm.”

Among the victims of Wednesday’s school shooting were two students – both of them at least 18 years old – a school counselor, a security guard, and two carpenters working at the education complex. As of Friday morning, one of the victims remains in critical condition and another is in stable condition at Highland Hospital. All other victims have been discharged from the hospital.

Jason Arbuckle, a carpenter had a bullet graze his head. On Friday Arbuckle was back home after a split-second ordeal upended his life.

As the manhunt pushed past 48 hours on Friday, police offered no new details about the three suspects – two shooters and a driver – who entered the front door of the King Estates education campus in Oakland’s Eastmont Hills and unleashed a barrage of at least 30 bullets. Law enforcement has attributed the shooting to a “group and gang conflict.”

“The individuals who are responsible for this are still out in our community armed and dangerous,” Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said during a Thursday press conference. He said surveillance video from the scene captured the shooters.

Police are now offering an award of up to $30,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case.

The education complex where the shooting occurred remained closed on Friday with more than 600 Oakland students unable to attend classes.

While the manhunt continues, questions have arisen about potential warning signs and security precautions at the cluster of schools on the King Estates campus, including Rudsdale High School, Rudsdale Newcomer High and BayTech Charter School. About six weeks ago police responded to a stabbing during a “gun-related incident” at Rudsdale High School, police said.

John Sasaki, a school district spokesperson, would not comment on whether the front door to the complex was locked. He said district policy requires doors to be locked during the day and added that police are investigating the matter.

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