Two teenage brothers, both Berkeley High School students, were killed in a shooting Saturday night at a birthday party in Oakland that turned violent.
The shooting happened Saturday just before 10 p.m. on the 950 block of Apgar Street, in Oakland's Longfellow neighborhood, near the Emeryville border. Family members of the two slain boys say that they were attending a birthday party at an Airbnb or other type of vacation rental unit. Two others at the party were also injured in the shooting.
The victims have been identified as 17-year-old Jayz Sotelo Garcia and his 15-year-old brother Angel Garcia, who were the eldest of a family of six children, with a single mother. The boys' cousin, Melani Garcia, spoke to ABC 7 and said she was frustrated that many people will jump to the conclusion that the teenagers were part of a gang or linked to illegal activity.
"From my perspective, it feels like you see two young brown kids who are victims of gun violence and most people's minds automatically jump to gang association," Garcia tells the station. "That's not true! My little boys weren't affiliated with anything. They were just at the wrong place at the wrong time."
An across-the-street neighbor, Martin Opsahl, tells KPIX that he saw about 20 to 40 teens attending the party.
"It started as a commotion, you know just people drinking, kind of gathering, and it started breaking out into bickering and hostility, and before you know it, two guys walk upstairs and start shooting at each other," Opsahl says.
The boys' aunt, Erika Galavis, tells the Chronicle that a masked shooter "stormed" the party, and it's not clear who the intended targets were. The boys' 13-year-old brother was also at the party and survived.
Galavis said the brothers grew up playing soccer, and Jazy wanted to move to Los Angeles to work in the fashion industry. Angel, she said, was "a gentle soul" who wanted to become an architect.
The older brother reportedly called their mother about 30 minutes before the shooting, asking to be picked up. But she said she began receiving frantic calls and texts from other parents about the shooting just before she left the house.
Berkeley High School said that its counselors will provide resources and support to students this week.
"We are deeply saddened to learn that two Berkeley High School students and beloved members of the BUSD community lost their lives yesterday in a senseless act of gun violence," said Superintendent Enikia Ford Morthel in a Sunday statement. "We will all hold our children close tonight.
The family set up a GoFundMe to cover funeral expenses, and it has already raised double its goal of $35,000.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the OPD Homicide Section at (510)-238-3821.
There has been no confirmation about what company may have been used to rent the unit where the party took place. Airbnb announced at the beginning of the summer that it was taking steps to prevent all house parties, at least over the Memorial Day and July 4th weekends, including canceling two-day rentals and refusing rentals to guests without previous positive reviews.
A Halloween party at an Airbnb rental in Orinda was the site of a bloody quintuple homicide in 2019. After making several arrests of suspects in the weeks after the shooting, police have yet to solve the crime, and no one has ever been charged.
Oakland saw yet another fatal shooting Sunday morning that brought the city's homicide total to 99 for the year to date.
Top image via GoFundMe