Tensions are high in both Oakland's and SF's Chinatowns, after weeks in which elderly residents and others have been assaulted and/or robbed on the street in multiple instances. And on Monday evening, one business owner who tried to take matters into his own hands — by way of shooting a weapon while intervening in a robbery that was occurring outside his store — was arrested for his actions.
As KTVU reports, the 36-year-old store owner was taken into custody by the Oakland PD after they arrived on the scene and learned that he had fired four shots while struggling with the alleged thief — who had assaulted a woman outside his store and tried to steal her camera. The incident happed around 5:30 p.m. Monday near the intersection of Ninth and Franklin streets.
The store owner faces one count of felony assault with a firearm, and he was bailed out on Tuesday.
"We don't want people to fire weapons into our community," said newly installed Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong. "There could be unintended victims."
He said in a press conference Monday, "We would really prefer [people] to be good witnesses and give us the observations that they have; share that information, call law enforcement immediately and let OPD respond and follow up. What we really don’t want to do is bring any additional issues that threaten safety into the equation."
Armstrong, himself, recently suffered a tragedy involving a firearm and an unintended victim, when a close family friend, 52-year-old Lashawn Buffin was killed after her home was riddled with bullets, which were shot by a group of people gathered nearby.
As KPIX reports, the Oakland Chinatown community remained rattled Tuesday, and news of the liquor store owner's arrest continued to reverberate. Armed security guards are now being paid to patrol the neighborhood, with the community no longer trusting police alone to keep them safe.
Chinatown Chamber of Commerce head Carl Chan tells KPIX, that without more of a police presence, there could be more acts of vigilantism.
"I think many of the people feel strongly that we should be supporting the store owner," he said. "I am so worried because I heard the news that many people are trying to find ways to protect themselves. And we do not believe that violence against violence is the way to go."
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