Deputy Oakland police chief loses close family friend in recent homicide

Gun violence is hitting close to home for one member of the Oakland Police Department during this current spike in homicides.

Deputy Chief LeRonne Armstrong's close family friend was mong the seven recent homicides, KTVU has learned.

Lashawn Buffin, 52, was shot on Saturday while in her own home. 

Buffin's home was riddled with bullets.  At least 15 shots were fired. She died on Tuesday. 

Police say a group was gathered outside when shots rang out and that Buffin does not appear to be the intended target.

Armstrong told KTVU he grew up with Buffin, whom he described as his godsister.

 "How close the violence can be to you no matter who you are in the city of Oakland," he said. 

Neighbors say she was often seen with her children and grandchildren.

"Seemed like a nice person, really sweet. Always drove her kids around when they needed to be driven," said one neighbor who declined to give his name.  

The neighbor says gun violence is an ongoing concern,

"Kind of shocked. Thought they were shooting at our house because it sounded very close by."  

Oakland Deputy Police Chief Leronne Armstrong (left); Lashawn Buffin

Armstrong said too many families in Oakland have been impacted by senseless violence.

"I wanted to have an impact on saving lives and this just reinforces there's so much more work to be done," he said. 

Armstrong emphasized while he is taking Buffin's death personally, other victims also leave behind grieving family members.

Many of the recent homicides have taken place in East Oakland. One of them occurred on Thursday night when gunfire erupted at 6:14 p.m. on Apricot Street at 107th Avenue. Police say officers located one victim suffering from a gunshot wound but did not provide additional details.

Police say they're working collaboratively with Mayor Libby Schaaf, other city departments and community partners to come with alternative strategies to fight violence.

But it's a continued struggle. 

The police department is investigating 11 homicides compared to one at the same time last year.

"We've seen gun violence rise because of the COVID pandemic," Armstrong said. "We're unable to do strategies in the same manner that we were doing previously. Our Ceasefire strategy that centers around direct communication has been impacted."

A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information leading to each arrest.