Neighbors mourn Oakland 7-Eleven security guard who was shot to death trying to prevent theft

Over the weekend, Oakland homicide detectives continued to investigate the Friday night killing of a security guard at a convenience store near Lake Merritt. The victim has been identified as 59-year-old James Johnson. 

On Sunday morning, flowers were outside 7-Eleven, serving as a memorial to Johnson, who was known as a kind, caring "bear of a man." 

Oakland police say Johnson was shot to death while he was trying to prevent someone for stealing items.

The suspect brandished a firearm and fired at the security guard before getting into a car and leaving the scene, OPD said. 

Johnson died at the scene, despite efforts by first responders who arrived at the scene. 

Neighbors knew Johnson and said they would miss him. 

"He was a nice man, a giant man," said Brian Wolcott. "He would talk to everyone who came in. He would look out for people all the time." 

One man who lives in the building where Johnson lived with his two adult children said, "He was just going to work like he usually does every day. He didn’t know that was going to happen to him. He didn’t deserve that. He’ll be missed."  

The 7-Eleven store serves the Adams Point community near Lake Merritt. It's located across the street from Whole Foods and flanked on the west side of Harrison Street by large multi-story, luxury condominium buildings. 

"Certainly not the kind of area where you would ever expect to have someone get shot and killed. That being said, this 7-Eleven has been targeted before," said neighbor Nick Theisen. 

The residents said they love their neighborhood, but they keep their heads on a swivel, especially after COVID-19 hit. 

"There's been a lot of retail theft and burglaries, which is really unfortunate," said Charles Lee. "There's a lot of desperate people out there and bad actors. It just seems like a circumstance right now." 

Thiesen added: "Just generally, in Oakland, it feels like there's been a creep of crime; certainly property crime has felt like it's been on the rise." 

Anyone with information about this homicide is asked to contact the Oakland Police Department's Homicide Section at 510-238-3821 or to leave an anonymous tip on the tip line 510-238-7950. 

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the Johnson family with funeral and basic living costs. 

Slain security guard James Johnson. Photo: GoFundMe