Oakland gang threats have San Leandro police officers on alert
SAN LEANDRO (BCN) -- An Oakland street gang is allegedly threatening the lives of San Leandro police officers over December's fatal shooting of an auto theft suspect in an East Oakland cul-de-sac by four San Leandro officers, according to police.
The officers opened fire on 27-year-old Guadalupe Manzo Ochoa of Union City as she tried to ram her way out of the 9800 block of Springfield Street the night of Dec. 7. Ochoa later died in a hospital.
Three of the four officers who opened fire were identified through a California Public Records Act request to the Oakland Police Department.
But Oakland police spokeswoman Officer Johnna Watson has since said the officers' names were released by mistake and the records request should have been declined due to threats against the officers.
Watson said in an email, "The San Leandro Police Department has received credible threats against their department" related to the shooting, but she declined to elaborate further.
The three officers whose names were released had only a few years of experience with the department each.
The most experienced officer of the three has more than a decade of law enforcement experience, most with the San Jose Police Department, where he served for nine years. He joined the San Leandro police in 2012.
Another of the officers joined the force early in 2013 after graduating from the Alameda County sheriff's academy the previous year. The third joined the force in early 2014.
The fourth officer has not been identified.
The night of the shooting, Ochoa had been spotted in a stolen truck near Halcyon Drive and Dillo Street in San Leandro at 7:55 p.m. When two police officers tried to pull her over, she initially stopped but then sped away, according to police.
The officers chased her into Oakland, where she became cornered on Springfield Street, a short cul-de-sac populated by single-family homes off of 98th Avenue.
There, she allegedly rammed several parked cars and police cars, provoking the officers to open fire. Police said one officer was hospitalized with a complaint of pain after the incident, but they have declined to specify how he was injured.
Ochoa was taken to a hospital after the incident, where she died two days later. There was a young passenger in the car as well but police quickly released her from custody and she was not struck by gunfire.
Ochoa's sister, Patricia Manzo, said the family was not alerted that Ochoa was in the hospital following the shooting and only found out through rumors.
Ochoa's other sister began investigating and eventually tracked her down at the hospital, where she was in surgery, Manzo said. The family received little information on the circumstances of the shooting from police, she said.
Manzo began investigating the shooting herself and visited the street shortly afterward. She spoke to neighbors there who told her they heard more than 20 shots fired. Manzo said she saw bullet holes in some of the houses on the block and tire tracks in a home's front lawn.
"She didn't deserve all those shots I think," Manzo said.
Her sister left behind two daughters, 3 and 5 years old, now in the care of Manzo and her mother.
Manzo acknowledges her sister was troubled. She had left her mother's home to be homeless and was sometimes staying with friends in Union City, despite her mother's pleas to remain at home.
Union City police said Ochoa was arrested in a stolen car there in October and officers realized she had a warrant for a previous charge of assault with a deadly weapon. Officers also found lockpicking tools and metal knuckles in a search of the car.
San Leandro police have alleged that she and a brother, Isidro Manzo, had gang ties. Patricia Manzo said she knew nothing about any possible gang affiliations her sister had.
The apparent threats to the department stem from those alleged gang ties. Police have not specified what gang they are alleged to have been involved in, but said there was evidence the gang is now potentially targeting San Leandro police.
San Leandro police Lt. Robert McManus said officers returning to Oakland the morning after the shooting were confronted by suspects in a reported stolen vehicle that rapidly approached their patrol car from behind, veering into it and trying to run the officers off of the road.
However, McManus said there have been numerous similar incidents in the Bay Area of suspects in stolen cars trying to bait police into a pursuit.
Days after the shooting, he said one police officer was followed to his home in Livermore near where one of the officers involved in the shooting lives.
McManus said as the officer pulled onto the street at about 11:30 p.m., a group of four suspects in a car without a license plate stopped in front of the home and jumped out of the car.
When the officer confronted them, he said they jumped back in the car and sped off. The suspects were wearing clothing consistent with gang affiliation, which McManus said included long white T-shirts, baggy pants and dark hooded sweatshirts.
But whether the two incidents are connected to the Oakland shooting is "speculation," McManus said.
However, "It's very coincidental that these incidents have happened in such a short time following that shooting," McManus said.
Both police departments are investigating the shooting, as well as the Alameda County District Attorney's Office. The district attorney's office has yet to make a determination whether the shooting was justified.