A man who was fatally shot by Richmond and Fairfield police Wednesday morning on I-80 in Emeryville was a suspect in a 2015 Fairfield homicide who had been spotted driving a black Chevrolet SUV around Richmond, and then led police on a chase down 80 through Berkeley. Police employed a spike strip across the freeway before he could get to the MacArthur Maze, and around 9 a.m. the car collided with a guard rail and came to a stop in the middle of the freeway. A standoff of at least several minutes ensued with traffic halted in both directions and hundreds of witnesses in cars on eastbound I-80, until the suspect exited his vehicle, possibly with a weapon in hand, and was met with a barrage of bullets six seconds of rapid gunfire, as ABC 7 reports via eyewitness video you can see above.
Emeryville police are now taking the lead in investigating the officer-involved shooting, and Emeryville Police Chief Jennifer Tejada tells ABC 7, "If you look at the video that's available on social media it looks like he has a weapon in his hand." Further, she said, they have not yet determined how many police officers fired on the man.
Officers say the suspect fired at them first. The suspect has been identified as 45-year-old Demilo Hodge of San Leandro, as the Mercury News reports, and the Chevy Suburban he was driving was registered to a San Francisco limousine service. The Napa Valley Register, strangely, interviewed Hodge over a year ago in his role as a driver for Executive Excursion Limousine Service. In it he described himself as "a businessman with a heart of gold. I am very sentimental, caring and devoted as well as dedicated to people’s happiness and joy." *
Fairfield police spokesman Sgt. Jeff Osgood tells the Chronicle, "Officers negotiated with the suspect for an extended period of time until officers received gunfire from the suspect. Officers on scene returned fire, and the suspect was struck during the exchange."
Tejada says they are already talking to 40 commuters who witnessed the shooting, but they continue to seek more video from witnesses
The standoff, shooting, and ensuing investigation shut down all the westbound lanes of I-80 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., snarling East Bay traffic as a result. Eastbound lanes had already been stalled starting after a big-rig truck toppled over around 7 a.m. near the Gilman Street exit, closing down two lanes there for a full eight hours.
As the Chronicle notes, it made for an extraordinarily chaotic Wednesday for commuters, which also saw major BART delays at rush hour due to a dog on the tracks at Coliseum Station, and traffic snarls on the San Francisco end of the Bay Bridge after an AC Transit bus crashed into several vehicles and a construction site next to the Fremont Street off-ramp.
* This post has been updated with information about the slain suspect's identity.